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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default The Commoner Handbook

    The Commoner Handbook
    Playing to Your Strengths; A Guide for 1st-Level Commoners

    Welcome to an ambitious project, an effort that traditionally should not be had but one that must now be unearthed & given great light. For too long the wizards and clergy have managed the monsters & mapped the mazes. For too long the warriors and thieves have spilt their blood and solved a many puzzles. For too long have the common folk, have fed the land with their sweat and blood only to be passed over for those of a higher calling. That ends now.

    The purpose and hope of this handbook is to provide the tools, insight and opportunity for the most basic of commoners to be transformed, through optimization, into credible & respectable characters. To accomplish this some basic qualifiers have to be addressed. When this handbook mentions commoner it is referencing what this author will define as a basic commoner. A basic commoner is a first level commoner with starting stats that never exceed 11. There aren’t any elite, or non-elite, stat arrays here… And there won’t be any prospective insight into the further careers of second and higher level commoners. If a commoner has achieved enough experience points to gain a second level they should be entitled to stop being a commoner. The last qualifier is that this handbook will take an assumption of the lowest resources applied to the commoner’s environment. This translates into making the base assumption of a commoner living in a thorp, which can sustain 20 to 80 individuals and has a 40 gp commerce limit.

    With all of that said the base assumption taken within this handbook is of a basic commoner (starting stats 10-11) residing in a thorp of 20 - 80 individuals with a commerce limit of 40 gp.

    Table of Contents
    • Introduction
    • The Class Itself
    • Races and Feats
    • Tools of the Trade
    • Sample Commoner Packages
    Last edited by Zonugal; 2013-09-13 at 10:12 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Nov 2010

    Default Re: The Commoner Handbook

    The Class Itself

    The commoner doesn’t have a lot of things going for them. They have no experience in combat, no social skills, no real practical talents to bring to a situation and enough hit points to be afraid of house cats. But the one advantage the commoner does have is under-appreciation and thus, surprise. Many underestimate the abilities of the simple commoner; few will take the time to pay any appropriate attention towards them. This is where the commoner shines, this where they may blend in with background & survive. This brings us to the first true section of the handbook, survival.

    No commoner ever lived by rushing head first towards danger and even fewer survived by trying to imitate an adventurer. So to further your commoner’s existence some standard tenants need to be laid down:
    1.) Never, if at all possible, engage an enemy in melee combat. In fact if the option is available retreating is a legitimate reaction. You have no BaB, one weapon proficiency and at most maybe 5 hit points, you are not a warrior. But that isn’t to say you can’t support in a fight, just make sure you are at a safe distance.
    2.) Creativity is your greatest tool and one that will more than likely save your life countless times. Creative solutions become mandatory because you lack the hit points to try anything else. Mysterious creature in the basement? Tie a rope to a ham & chuck it down as a means to scout. Potentially trapped hallway? Fill up a barrel and roll it down. Approaching problems in an imaginative manner has to become a standard procedure.
    3.) Specialization is key, do not over burden yourself by trying to make your commoner good at a whole lot of stuff. Ideally they should be great at one thing and possibly good at another. You have limited skill points and feats to spend them equalizing talents, you want to be known in a community for your one-awesome gift.

    With those mentioned we can delve a little deeper into examining what exactly the Commoner offers up as a class.

    To be frank it isn’t a lot, you’re a farmer for a reason. You ain’t got no fancy book learnin’ and your mules think you tell great jokes. But even manure can be used to cultivate exceptional talent, so let us look at our manure.

    Hit Points: You’re getting a d4 which puts you against first-level mages except they have all of that magic stuff to compensate; you just have those awesome jokes… A d4 means you are very vulnerable, vulnerable enough to fear housecats. It’s a bad situation… But this also grants us a bit of lee-way, we already know you are squishy so we can actually sack this. The difference between having three hit points and four hit points is nothing when you’re being chased by a winter wolf or a sword is coming towards your face. We’ve already established you’ll be avoiding melee whenever possible so this isn’t actually that huge an issue as it would be for a standard adventurer.
    BaB: You’ve got a solid zero in here which puts you on even footing with mages, rogues, monks and countless other adventurers. I mean sure they have abilities and better stats but the whole lot of you have no practical fighting experience. So what does this zero mean for you though? It means you are to focus on touch attacks and other non-conventional tactics in combat. You don’t have to be stronger if your enemy is becoming weaker.
    Saves: Nothing, you are horrifically weak in this department. Umm… Stay away from poisons, pits and Psions… Really though, this is where creative problem solving comes in. You aren’t built to deal with a trap, so don’t!
    Proficiencies: You get no armor or shield, thus re-enforcing our idea that you should stay out of melee. Regarding weapon proficiencies you receive one simple proficiency. So our selection has to be serious because this one weapon better last you your whole first-level career. Some legitimate choices are:
    *Dagger: Practical, versatile and cheaply produced makes daggers excellent choices if your commoner isn’t leaning towards any particular style of combat. 1d4 damage is modest and with 10ft. of ranged support we’re given even more versatility. This is a classic choice for a pragmatic commoner.
    *Club: Cheap, reliable and free makes the club a fair choice for a standard weapon. Lacking the versatility of a dagger, the club sports an increased 1d6 damage as well as 10ft. of ranged support. This is a perfect weapon for outfitting a simple ‘militia’ in any community.
    *Spear: Strong, sturdy and the weapon for a commoner prepared to fight. Just as cheap as a dagger with an increased damage of 1d8 and 20ft. of ranged support turn this into a weapon designed for conflict. It isn’t as easy to carry on one’s self like a dagger or a club, but no other simple weapon is going to match its stats.
    *Light Crossbow: Swift, speedy and expensive! Oh boy, these should only be given to accomplished commoners who have developed talents in ranged attacks. With a 35 gp price tag they almost hit the ceiling for a thorp’s commerce limit (40 gp), almost demanding someone craft one… But 1d8 damage at a distance of up to 80ft. is impossible to argue against for combat. It will safely place your commoner outside the realm of conventional danger. In the end, because of the price, this is going to be an exclusive item served for the best shots within a community.
    Sling: Solid, respectable and a standard choice to nearly any commoner. Lacking any melee potential the sling is almost a purely defensive weapon. But being practically free (including using stones instead of sling bullets, which are still very cheap) means everyone can make, carry & use one when needed. A 1d4 damage base and ranged support up to 50ft. means it puts your commoner outside of any standard move & attack routines. Cheaper than a crossbow, the sling serves well as additional ranged support for any community.

    In summary for your standard commoner a dagger, club or sling are all phenomenal choices with the spear & light crossbow being a much more specialized (and thus deliberate) choice for more specialized commoners.
    Special Proficiency Options
    *Blowgun [OA]: Offered in Oriental Adventures you could have a commoner select the blow gun which offers a ranged attack at 10 ft. at 1 point of damage. Stat-wise it doesn’t bring a lot to the table but for an assassin or ninja it is a fairly useful weapon to invest in for poisoning. It is incredible light and fairly easy to disguise so it is an option (if a not prevalent one).

    Skills
    Eight to twelve skill points is a pretty scarce resource, which helps solidify the point on specialization. You don’t have the skill points of a rogue to dip into a wide school of talents. So with that mentioned let us examine exactly what you have to pour those into:
    Class Skills
    *Climb: Honestly for a commoner climbing is really important. Most of the time you should be climbing away from a dangerous monster or to gain high-ground for ranged attacks. But as important as it is, it doesn’t demand a huge investment. For the ability to climb a ship’s rigging, a knotted rope or a rough wall with good handholds you only really need one skill point (via taking ten). To be able to climb a tree or a wall with pitons you’ll want three skill points (with bonuses coming from tools & assisting allies, also via taking ten).
    *Craft: Very versatile in what one can do, this skill is best for those who might be specializing in one distinct branch or focus of it. In general it is never a bad idea to drop a skill point or two into craft as it will only add an additional element to your commoner in the sense of them being able to contribute to the growth of a community. And because there are so many different focuses/pathways to this skill they’ll each be addressed:
    *Craft (Alchemy): A very hard skill for a Commoner to obtain (the magical training feat is required) but one that presents a lot of great products to be made. Four skill points opens up acid for production which is cheap & effective. You can plop out jars of the corrosive stuff for a little over three gp and in return you have a way to burn through locks, a splash weapon and anything else that might need to be eroded away. Now after that things become a little harder as you’ll have to be hitting DC’s of 20 which means you’ll need some feats & assistants to be producing products like forger’s paper, heartfire, shriek paste, stinkpot, trail bar, dust & pepper egg-shell bombs and sleeping fire. It is also important to note that poisons are available to alchemists, which opens up really nice & cheap toxins like carrion crawler brain juice, striped toadstool, Id moss and Drow poison.
    *Craft (Composing): A little unorthodox but a great way for a commoner to make easy money. Investing four skill points (and a tool as well as taking ten) can get you producing quartets. You’ll end up spending two gp for materials but bringing in five to fifteen gp from the sale of it.
    *Craft (Playwright): A much better vehicle for making money than Craft (Composing), this skill works in the same way but offers much more return in gp. By making a similar investment of four skill points (and a tool as well as taking ten) you can spend two gp for resources to produce a comedic play (10 to 15 gp) or a dramatic play (15 to 30 gp)…
    *Craft (Poisonmaking): There is a lot of news surrounding crafting poisons primarily because, beyond their supreme usefulness in combat, they can bring in a lot of gp for a cheap investment of money. Now, I support investing skill points in this for combat reasons but because of the troubles in finding poisons and producing them you would be better off with Craft (Composing, Playwright or Wordsmithing) for gaining money. After all there isn’t any chance of poisoning yourself when writing… But for those interested in utilizing poisons for combat this handbook will offer more insight later. It should also be noted that Craft (Alchemy) can produce poisons at a negative four penalty, so the investment of skill points in Craft (Poison) should really be given a lot of thought.
    *Craft (Trapmaking): This skill, while obscenely powerful, is initially a trap… The lowest price for a standard, mechanical trap is 1,000 gp which is really, really expensive. In fact you’d have to have your commoner live in a small town or above to reasonably have the funds to construct even the lowest traps. Now, one shouldn’t write this skill off entirely because the Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 introduces booby traps. Investing four skill points (with a tool, being aided by two assistants & taking ten) can get your commoner the ability to produce cheap & effective traps (by taking a 20 on a Survival check your commoner can actually build them for free given ten minutes to scavenge for parts).
    *Craft (Weaponsmithing): This is a highly practical and easy skill to invest any left over skill points in. Two skill points (and taking ten) will get you producing almost any simple weapon while three skill points (and a tool & taking ten) will allow you to produce crossbows for a much cheaper price (that $35 gp price tag jumps down to $11 gp…). For those throwing a lot of daggers this is a necessary skill for such a small investment (via crafting you can effectively be making three daggers for every one you would otherwise purchase).
    *Craft (Wordsmithing): The luxury skill for any commoner who wishes to make a lot of money. You can make anywhere from 5 sp to 500 gp with enough optimization taken to this skill, no other skill in D&D offers such a prominent, financial reward with near absolute safety.
    *Handle Animal: Here is a powerful skill that is actually one in which full investment is best served. Not a skill every commoner should look at investing in, it does a fantastic job of adding allies to any community’s militia. Commoners might be weak but the animals obtained through handle animal can be fantastically strong. Even at the lowest level three riding dogs are the basic equivalent to three first-level fighters, which is nothing to look down upon.
    *Jump: Not the greatest skill to invest in (it really isn’t super versatile in one it brings to the table) but one that can be nice to have… A DC of 15 is the highest you should ever really have to meet and can easily be achieved by a commoner dedicated to jumping. For those less dedicated dropping a single skill point in will assure you the ability to hop up and clear ten feet in a running jump.
    *Listen: A fairly important skill for adventurers but for commoners? Listen is a hard skill to gauge because it is so passive, but when you need it you really do need it. Honestly dropping a single skill point in this will end up useful as you’ll be able to typically hear an unarmed person walking at 15 ft. per round in addition to people whispering ten ft. away.
    *Profession: This is the bread & butter of any commoner. If you aren’t an artisan you are a professional, you simply have to as a means to sustain any suitable way of life. Now typically, with pouring four skill points in this you’ll be hitting (via taking ten) a 14 which translates to seven gp per week. That isn’t a huge amount but this handbook below will show a deeper analysis of commoner economics. With that said there are some professions which have some nice, additional aspects to them:
    *Profession (Executioner): Out of the Book of Vile Darkness this skill gives us the details needed for hangings and beheading an individual. Typically you’ll need to hit a DC of 15 (for hanging) and 18 (for beheading). Now these are a bit higher (and you don’t get the luxury of taking ten) so some serious investment is required here. But in the end of the day, your commoner can be the guy who any community comes running to when they’ve caught a murderer or thief.
    *Profession (Miner): The skill made for kobolds and for good reasoning, mining is dangerous but possibly lucrative! When dealing with traditional rock you can expect a group of miners to dig anywhere from 10 to 20 ft. per day which is a nice capacity for any community to be working at. Tunnels are a tremendous gift to any community under threat and serve as perfect battlefields against adventurers.
    *Profession (Sailor): A standard skill for a commoner of the high seas to possess and a nice skill to really add to one’s exotic repertoire. An easy four skill point investment means your commoner can typically handle anything short of a hurricane.
    *Ride: A suitable skill for a cheap calvary, this goes tremendously well with the handle animal skill. Perhaps more useful for smaller races, the skill offers a lot of great stuff but demands some serious investment to make it count. A couple commoners pumping this skill and Mounted Archery can do a lot of safe, consistent damage on a battlefield.
    *Spot: A useful skill, arguably more useful than listen, but much harder to utilize without higher investment. Four skill points (a small bonus to wis & being assisted) can give you a two-thirds chance of reliably reading lips from 30 ft. away, which can come in handy every once in a while…
    *Swim: If you are going to be in a heavily-aquatic community then dropping one skill point in this isn’t going to hurt (and may in fact save your life down the road).
    *Use Rope: Incredibly useful and even cheaper as merely investing one skill point in this skill opens up some nice options. The real treat about Use Rope is that most of the time you can take ten or even twenty, which means you’ll be able to tie most knots, secure a grappling hook and bind an opponent. That last one is important because you should be easily obtaining anywhere from 31-35 on the DC which puts everyone except a rogue (who decided to invest in Escape Artist) in a bad situation.

    Cross-Class Skills
    While not as traditional as in-class skills some of these do hold some merit.
    *Decipher Script: Two skill points invested in this will allow an individual in a community to create ciphers. Now, the reason this is pretty darn neat is nobody really invests in decipher script and with it being a trained-only skill you’ll have relative safety in passing off messages should the need arise. It ends up being a niche skill but one that can come in handy for a fairly cheap price.
    *Disable Device: You won’t be encountering very many traps but this skill has a lot of versatility for those who with some imagination. One of the other applications of disable device is sabotaging devices which can create some masterful opportunities and because you can take 20 you can actually end up doing some meaningful damage. By investing two skill points you’ll have a commoner who can sabotage a simple or tricky device (e.g. jamming a lock or sabotaging a wagon wheel) without leaving a trace. A lot of great potential here…
    *Disguise: A weird skill but one that actually caters towards it rather than spot which means your commoner will always have the advantage. Two skill points (a disguise kit & taking ten) will grant you the ability to reasonably get by with a change in only minor details which translates to a +18 bonus against a guard’s likely +0.
    *Forgery: A bit like the disguise skill in that it is a really niche skill but one that can pay for itself quickly when used wisely. Two skill points and the experience of a criminal affords you the possibility to make fake passports, contracts and anything else to lure someone’s trust to you. Ideally you’ll want to be using a masterwork tool (+2), forger’s paper (+2) and taking ten to create a forgery of an unknown type of document (+2) with unfamiliar handwriting (+2) not pertaining to any specific individual (government decree/business ledger) (+8) that the reader can glance casually (+2) for an overall DC of 29. Even without such craziness you will typically have the advantage when dealing with any forgery reader. It is an untrained skill which no one invests in which means with preparation your commoner’s score will nearly always beat the reader’s score.
    *Heal: This skill doesn’t get much attention but it is really important, especially for a small community. Luckily it doesn’t take much to optimize it and the pay-out is pretty phenomenal as for two skill points you can turn any ordinary commoner into a doctor. A DC of 15 seems to be the norm for most medical emergencies which means two skill points, a skill focus, a healer’s kit, taking ten and an assist gets you beyond it with ease. Oh and just to put that into other terms you’d be able to cure an individual of every disease but Mummy Rot and 24 out of 28 poisons in the Player’s Handbook…
    *Knowledge: Now this skill has a whole lot of sub-skills and in general is as important as the campaign dictates but there are some that jump out ahead of others very quickly.
    *Knowledge (Architecture & Engineering): A pretty uncommon skill to have but it has a lot of hidden potential few take advantage of… Finding a weakness in a stronghold can save a lot of time & people in any battle; two skill points, a masterwork tool, taking ten and some assistants gets you at that DC of 20. Now commoners aren’t meant to be any legendary war-time force but knowing where to strike with precision can elevate your farmers into guerrilla warriors.
    *Knowledge (Local): Besides being the most practical skill for a commoner to obtain it is also necessary for some really, nice regional feats. Two skill points will get you access to regional feats, the ability to answer basic questions regarding local aspects (legends, personalities, inhabitants, laws, customs, traditions, ect.) and will tell you one interesting piece of useful information pertaining to humanoids (who let us be honest will be your most common foe next to animals).
    *Knowledge (Nature): This doesn’t bring with it regional feats like Knowledge (Local) but is a really nice skill considering how much agriculture/weather plays a role in a small community as well as how it has a collection of the most likely monsters to plague your small town (animals, fey, giants, monstrous humanoids, plants & vermin). Two skill points will get you answering basic questions regarding nature-related things (seasons & cycles, weather, ect.) as well as telling you one interesting piece of useful information pertaining to the types above (which is a steal seeing as Knowledge (Nature) comes with six creature types…).
    *Open Lock: Most small communities aren’t going to spend extra money on an average lock when a simple lock gets the equivalent job done. This is their mistake and your gain. Open lock allows one to take 20 but being a trained skill means most don’t invest and thus most don’t get to utilize it. Regularly, for an adventurer, I’d recommend skipping this and just smashing the lock off but for a commoner subtly is nice to have. Two skill points and taking 20 means you always open a simple lock which for the investment is rather nice.
    *Search: In general one doesn’t typically need to invest any skill points in this skill, so this advice pertains only to commoners who would wish to deduce. In conjunction with the Investigate skill from the Eberron Campaign Setting you can, with two skill points & taking 20, find & discern a moderate clue at a crime scene. This author personally likes it…

    Skill Tricks
    I know what you might already by thinking, “How does one obtain one when a commoner is limited to 4 ranks?” The primary contact feat from Cityscape skips over that problem and opens up some rather nice options.
    *Collector of Stories: A +5 bonus to all knowledge skills in getting an additional piece of information pertaining to a creature’s weakness is a huge thing for a small community facing unique & new challenges. That second useful piece of info could be that trolls are damages by fire or acid, something that could radically change the flow of battle. Only one commoner in a community typically needs this because of the heavy investment but for a ‘sage’-like character it can be a boon.

    Teamwork Benefits
    Some of these are helpful in building pseudo-militias but because of the prerequisites they have to be planned out in advance. They are largely free though and can go a long way in transforming a group of farmers into a collective force in a defensive situation.
    *Joint Bull Rush: The team leader needs Improved Bullrush and it revolves around melee (which we have addressed as largely being an awful idea…) so this falls into a last ditch effort forwarded by an Orc commoner. Now there is some benefits (and some weakness) but for a last ditch effort against a foe it actually does have some merit. Every member bulrushes but only one attack is used (the strongest team member plus every one else’s strength modifier combined) which could total up to possibly +20. Now the downside of this comes from your enemy getting an attack of opportunity against everyone who charged him, so some of your men will probably die. Now the way to save that is to carefully apply some battlefield tactics. Your enemy can’t return an attack if your group of bull rushers pushes him backwards into a pit/trap/ect…
    *Missile Volley: Another teamwork benefit in a similar style to the one above but much safer & practical in its application for commoners. Requiring the feats Far Shot & Precise Shot for the team leader and Point Blank Shot for team members this is a much heavier teamwork benefit in terms of investment, so keep this reserved for legitimate active-militia members of a community. With that said though this can add something akin to a +8 to every team member’s ranged shot which is nothing to look down upon. If building an active, ranged militia this is too good a choice to pass up…
    Last edited by Zonugal; 2013-09-13 at 10:13 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: The Commoner Handbook

    Abilities, Races & Feats

    With our analysis of the commoner class and everything it brings to the table we now have that chassis to optimize into something tremendous! This is where the real optimization comes in, everything up this point has been fairly balanced shop-talk but from this point onward we transform your ordinary farmer into a guerrilla warrior who can defend their home with incredible might. Let us begin with a brief examination of your standard abilities.

    Abilities
    *Strength: This skill is important to a degree but not for the conventional reasons. Carrying capacity and strength-based skills are important in a community and in the role of any farmer/hunter. But regarding combat and adventuring any bonuses towards strength would be better served in dexterity. It boils down to a measure of offense versus defense, with defense always being the higher priority. If you are using a ‘strong-tough’ race like the orcs (which is touched on) then this can become a bit better to invest in but in general as long as it doesn’t go into the penalties you should be fine (small races are typically exempt from this caution).
    *Dexterity: Perhaps the most important ability for all practical reasons. Increases armor class, reflex saves, a lot of good skills and will improve your ranged attacks. This is a really pivotal ability for a commoner because it brings so much to the table.
    *Constitution: This ability is perhaps the most complex. On one hand your hit points are already awful so taking a hit here isn’t really going to do a lot of damage. But on the other hand soulmelds (perhaps the greatest resource for commoners) is keyed off having a constitution score of 13. So it really comes down to boosting constitution if you can (typically through a race) or not putting a lot of emphasis on it (if you have decided against using soulmelds).
    *Intelligence: I’d rank this as the most important mental ability. Most of the ‘heavy-hitters’ in skills are intelligence-based (craft and knowledge skills…) and with this bringing in possibly more skills it rides all the way to the top.
    *Wisdom: A fair ability but one that can ultimately be sacked if needed (although you should never have to do so…). Keeping this out of the negatives is typically well enough but it is also easy to bring this (alongside the other mental abilities) up to 12.
    *Charisma: The last and most common dump stat, this ability has some uses but because Commoner’s typically have no real talent for charismatic skills it becomes even easier to bring to an eight or nine.

    Summary: For your standard commoner you’ll want to emphasis your abilities in a manner similar to this: Dex>Con=Int>Str>Wis>Cha.

    Improving Ability Scores
    Now if we use the standard base of having a 10 or 11 in each ability we can do a lot with age bonuses. For those inclined to really optimize a commoner if we can do something akin to this process: Start off the commoner with an 11 in every ability score. Now make that commoner middle-aged. This will in turn reduce their physical stats to 10 but bump their mental stats to 12. Now as one can see there is almost never a reason not to do this (with the issue of constitution & soulmelds arising for obvious reasons).

    Races
    Now we delve into a real fun section of optimizing a basic commoner. Races bring a lot of unique & diverse abilities to a commoner that can really transform one into a spectacular member of any small community. For this section only good to great choices will be listed as to save time & really give a focus on which races stick out as ideal candidates.
    *Human: A solid choice and typically the most present but in optimizing commoners there are a lot better choices. The extra feat & skill point brings a lot to the table as does a default ability array (no bonuses or penalties) which means you can do the ‘middle-aged trick’ as mentioned above with no real loss.
    *Mongrelfolk: The dirty, ugly cousins of Humans who actually have a lot of interesting bonuses & talents. They start off with a +4 con, -2 int & -4 cha which means they are dumb & gross but tough (and open for soulmelds). Following that they have a lot of unique abilities like low-light vision, sound imitation (which is actually an amazing power when in the hands of a creative commoner), immunity to magic sleep, +1 bonus against enchantments & poison, +1 to a lot of nice skills and +4 bonus to both hide & sleight of hand. These dudes are outstanding as a commoner race (almost surpassing Humans with all of their racial talents).
    *Halfling: There are three superb choices regarding Halflings which makes choosing one a real hard choice…
    *Strongheart Halfling: These guys are arguably the best commoner race ever published. They won’t gain access to any soulmelds (which hurts) but they gain small size (very useful), a bonus to dexterity & penalty to strength (which is a nice trade), a bonus to solid skills & ranged combat and finally a bonus feat. The last one is really what catapults these small dudes but everything together really makes an outstanding package.
    *Jungle Haflings: Ditching the free feat of the Strongheart Halflings the Jungle Halflings almost make up for it in what they gain from their adaptation to the jungles. Continuing the bonus to dexterity and penalty to strength is wildly welcomed, small size and bonuses to solid skills is nice and gaining poison use is a really nice racial ability (one that can save you a feat). These guys are much more specialized then the ones above but for hunters you’ll rarely find a better race.
    *Water Halflings: A better default Halfling than the actual default Halflings. They gain all the standard Halfling racial traits, a swim speed (and nice bonus to swim) and an additional ability bonus to constitution (granting them access to soulmelds!) for practically nothing.
    *Earth Dwarves: When it comes to Dwarves their earthy cousins are effectively the best… Improved stability, improved stonecunning, improved bonuses to appraise and craft regarding stone or metal (the craft bonus is of particular goodness) and all they lose are some rather small bonuses towards things that you could more or less do without. Finally they have a ability array of +2 str, -2 dex, +2 con and -2 cha is makes them a really nice choice (although because of the penalty towards dexterity they’ll have to re-shift their ranged combat efforts).
    *Fire Elves: Now typically Elves get a lot of flak because of their constitution penalty and the general smugness that surrounds their race but regarding commoners they are pretty nice. They don’t really get a whole lot of sweet racial feats but they do carrying some nice racial abilities. The first noticeable difference between standard Elves and Fire Elves is the ability array of +2 dex, -2 con, +2 int, -2 cha which is a fantastic set-up for a commoner. After that comes fire resistance 5 and all the other standard Elven racial traits. Immunity to sleep, low-light vision and nice skill bonuses come together to present a solid selection.
    *Water Orcs: These brutes are the strongest toughest race of commoners you will find (short of staking on the Dragonborn template) and they are actually pretty good for a few niches. +4 str, +2 con, -2 int, -2 wis, -2 cha means they avoid any penalty to dexterity while optimizing exactly what needs to be done. And with the racial swim speed & swim bonuses they really come into their own as the ‘Viking Commoner’ race. Light Sensitivity means you’ll have to work at night (or purchase those nifty Riddick goggles) but in general these guys are really good for being the muscle for a community.
    *Desert Half-Orcs: A terrific race who have a lot of strengths pushing towards commoner needs. The +2 to con & -2 to int is a fair balance as it’ll cost you some skill points but unlock soulmelds. Low-light vision, heat endurance and the run feat give these guys even greater aptitudes towards survival in harsh conditions.
    *Forest Gnomes: Now typically one would expect to see the Whisper Gnomes up for recommendation but in this situation their cousins the Forest Gnomes eclipse them in many ways. In general the gnomes are a great race through their bonus to constitution (opening up soulmelds), the bonuses from being small sized, their racial aptitude for Craft (Alchemy) and their racial hatred but the Forest Gnomes bring even more treats. Instead of possessing Speak with Animals as a once per day spell-like ability the Forest Gnomes can simply converse with forest animals on a very basic level. This opens up a whole sub-system of scouting & intelligence when you can use squirrels and owls as spies. In addition to this they have the supernatural ability of Pass Without Trace effectively always active (which means they can never be tracked by non-magical means). Finally they come in with a whopping +8 bonus to hide, +12 when in a forest environment. These guys are easily the most practical and deadliest race for a commoner (if given the chance) simply because of how well they can use their surroundings to survive.
    *Dusklings: A really unique race these extraplanar fey come with a +2 to con & -2 int (matching Desert Half-Orcs) and some other unique aspects (the immunities granted by being a fey are very nice) but the biggest racial gift is an a bonus incarnum to invest in any soulmeld. If you are serious about soulmelds these are terrific dudes to use.
    *Desert Kobold: The final race and easily the most controversial in some aspects to themselves. At a standard, base level Desert Kobolds present a race with nice ability bonuses & penalties (-4 str, +2 dex & -2 wis), small size, natural weapons, solid skill bonuses and heat endurance. In general they are pretty well off but they really take off when the controversial Dragonwrought feat is applied. Suddenly, with the cost of a feat, you’ll be able to gain a +3 to int, wis and cha with no real penalty. Following that, depending on one’s campaign & ruling system, epic feats open us (because of the Dragon type). There aren’t a lot of epic feats that a standard Desert Kobold commoner can obtain but the few they can are very powerful. In summary on a basic level Desert Kobolds are a nice race but if one is looking to really go high-end than they also offer up a nice level of cheese for a struggling community.

    Feats
    Here we truly delve into the building blocks of any commoner, the greatest resource with the greatest potential to transform any farmer into something extraordinary. Picking feats is a careful science, typically you’ll only have access to three to four so you want ones that will actual bring something to table as well as compliment your skills, combat style & any other feats you’ve chosen.

    Core
    *Animal Affinity: Now typically I hate these simple skill boosting feats but this one stands out because of how important Handle Animal & Ride can be for a commoner. The difference between this and something like Acrobatic is that while a +2 bonus to Jump may help you out in the future a +2 to Handle Animal instantly pays for itself through increased/better animal choices. For a dedicated animal trainer/rider this is an okay feat (if one is still open).
    *Improved Bull Rush [Str 13, Power Attack]: Only useful if you are going to be trying to utilize the Joint Bullrush teamwork benefit. If so you only need one commoner to have this (and this act as the team leader).
    Improved Unarmed Strike: Usually you would want to stay away from a feat like this but in a commoner community this offers some nice versatility. The first advantage is that you are always armed and the second that you can switch from lethal to nonlethal damage when wanted. But the real sweet part is that those without this feat who engage you in an unarmed fight provoke attacks of opportunity. So whenever you walk into a bar you will typically, unless someone has hidden a blade on them, be the best fighter. For a more discreet combatant this is a nice feat to invest towards.
    *Mounted Archery [Ride 1 rank, Mounted Combat]: This is probably the best feat in Core for a commoner preparing for war, it is just that incredibly good. You’ll have distance and speed unmatched by most humanoid foes and with that safety to properly engage them. This feat (and Mounted Combat as the prerequisite) can transform your commoner into a Mongol warrior, it is a very good choice.
    *Point Blank Shot: This is a safe and standard feat for any ranged-based commoner. Needed for a Missile Volley teamwork benefit this offers a very simple bonus to combat within 30ft. (so good for dagger throwers & slingers).
    *Precise Shot: Typically this is the combo feat to go along with Point Blank Shot but unless you are building a team leader for a Missile Volley teamwork benefit I’d say you can pass on it (you aren’t really going to have allies engaged in melee as it is so…).
    *Rapid Reload: If your commoner uses a crossbow on a traditional basis (that is if they are a designated militia member) this is required. This will allow them to reload, move and fire which ends up meaning they are going to be significantly more mobile (and more tactically present) on any battlefield.
    *Skill Focus: For specialized commoners this is a very solid choice and a lot of great commoner builds end up using this because of how important skills can become when hitting DC checks above 15.

    Dungeon Master’s Guide 2
    In this book you’ll find the apprentice line of feats which honestly are remarkable for any commoner. They’ll grant a bonus, two class skills as well as two skill points to invest for your first level.
    *Craftsman: +2 on craft checks, 10% discount on purchasing raw materials to craft; Appraise and Knowledge (Architecture & Engineering). For a dedicated crafter in a community this an easy choice as it offers everything geared towards making you better at your job.
    *Criminal: +2 on intimidation checks, an extra 100 gp to spend on equipment; Bluff and Gather Information. An excellent feat for a more social commoner, this feat is important in pulling off the Fell Conspiracy combo (as mentioned later) within a really poor community.
    *Entertainer: +2 on diplomacy checks; Diplomacy and Perform. More flavor based than the others it still offers Diplomacy as a skill which is nice to have for obvious reasons.
    *Martial Artist: +2 on intimidation checks, +2 on reflex saves; Concentration and Tumble. Perhaps the weakest feat in the bunch, typically I would pass on this on as both skills aren’t that amazing for a commoner.
    *Philosopher: +2 on concentration and +2 on will saves; Knowledge (any one) and Sense Motive; Nice bonuses and skills make this an okay choice if desiring to supply a commoner with some more flavor.
    *Soldier: +2 on intimidation and +2 on fort saves; Intimidate and Knowledge (local). This jumps out as a great feat for a pre-designated militia member and honestly it sort of is. You’ll have to decide if this is better than something like Point Blank Shot but I tend to favor giving commoners skills (and personalities) so…
    *Spellcaster: +2 on spellcraft checks, 1 additional spell known (sorcerer-base); Knowledge (any one) and Use Magical Device. This is only useful for someone utilizing Magical Training (and even then it is kind of ehw….), I’d say you can pass on this one.
    *Woodsman: +2 on survival checks, pseudo-Track feat (but only for DC’s under 20); Knowledge (nature) and Survival. This is an amazing feat. It’s bonuses and skills are very practical and the fact that you get a lesser-Track for free makes it a natural choice for nearly any commoner with a free feat spot open.

    Magic of Incarnum
    Here we go, the major toys for any commoner. This is why so much emphasis in placed on races and constitution score. Some of these are powerful for skills while some others bring increased mobility, defense and offensive that borders on adventure-level stuff.
    *Blink Shirt: Teleport 10 feet. Increased mobility means greater defense (and thus safety). Need to break into a store? Just look through the window and suddenly you’re in there! Teleporting is a really sweet ability and opens up a lot of tactical options. If you build your community in a style reminiscent to the Ewok village you can have ranged-support teleporting from tree to tree, which is just awesome.
    *Dissolving Spittle: 1d6 acid damage with ranged touch attack. Probably the best ranged-offensive feat you can pick up for a commoner. Crossbows and slings are easier & have better range to them but aren’t going to grant you 30ft. of acid spitting touch attacks. Climb a tree and start unloading on a foe from above. You’ll have to decide if you want this or the traditional route of crossbows (because of the Missile Volley teamwork benefit). Beyond simple combat means being able to spew acid every round at will means tunneling and getting rid of waste become easier options.
    *Incarnate Avatar: Take on appearance & aspects of outsider. This is okay soulmeld if only for the deception that can be utilized through it. A farmer with a dagger isn’t that scary but a Blue Slaad, a Nycaloth, an Astral Deva or Marut are going to be much different. You’ll need incarnum to get a bonus out of it which means it isn’t that terrifically powerful but for deceiving a roaming group of adventures that you are an Astral Deva? Oh yeah…
    *Incarnate Weapon: Create an aligned weapon. This feat is traditionally going to be more useful than Martial Weapon Proficiency in any scenario. You instantly summon a melee weapon to you that you’re proficient in which brings obvious pros & cons. Pro you’ll have a weapon much more elegant than a club or spear but for a con you’ll be in melee combat which is not where you want to be. If you are outfitting some commoners to be melee-based militia (Maybe some Orcs who will form a Joint Bullrush teamwork benefit) this can be a nice feat.
    *Krenshar Mask: +4 competence bonus on Jump and Move Silently checks. Solid bonuses to nice skills makes this an okay feat (if you are building a commoner towards those skills). This is where soulmelds really shine as something like this is effectively more powerful than two Skill Focus feats. If you are building a commoner ninja, this can be useful.
    *Kruthik Claws: +4 competence bonus on Hide & Move Silently checks. Just like the Krenshar Mask soulmeld this is nice and its skills are more thematically connected. A race like Forest Gnomes can really pump their hiding through a soulmeld like this.
    *Lamia Belt: +4 competence bonus on Bluff and Hide checks. Another solid soulmeld like the others above.
    *Lifebond Vestment: Heal another by taking damage. This soulmeld is only real powerful when augmented with the Troll-Blooded regional feat. But when done you can make a creepy commoner who can effectively heal every member of the community (although it will take a full day for him to spread it out) without losing steam.
    *Lucky Dice: +1 to attack & damage rolls, saving throws, or skill & ability checks (or all of them based on dice roll). This soulmeld is incredibly versatile if a bit small in its bonus though. The ability to throw on a small bonus to offensive, saves or skills every round is pretty nice though and really is a great cost for a feat.
    *Planar Ward: Protection from mental control. Traditional more powerful for an adventure this still grants a huge amount of defense to any commoner.
    *RageClaws: Continue to fight when in negatives. This is mentioned as for nearly every reason it is better than toughness. You effectively gain ten more hit points and can continue to battle even when at -9 hit points. This can be a nice feat for melee-based militia members.
    *Riding Bracers: +4 insight bonus on Handle Animal and Ride checks. As mentioned above with Animal Affinity, these two skills are important and thus should be increased. This feat doubles the bonus from Animal Affinity and is really much better because of it.
    *Sailor’s Braces: +4 insight bonus on Swim, Profession (Sailor) and Use Rope checks. Only mentioned should you be building a commoner who is utilizing these skills (as mentioned in the skill section Use Rope does have its uses).
    *Soulspark Familiar: Creates soulspark creature [plus the Alertness feat]. The best offensive feat in the game for a commoner. There is said it, this author has thrown out the absolute definition. Why is it? Because it grants you a monster who has equivalent stats to a first level fighter who you can continuously summon every time it is destroyed. A swarm of soulsparks can take down a low-level adventurer because attrition is a pretty potent force in D&D. All your commoner has to do is hide within 30ft. Outside of combat these guys grant the Alertness feat for free (woo!) and in general act as familiars to your commoner. For the cost of a feat this brings with it so much power it would be insane not to utilize it.

    Faerun (Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, Lost Empires of Faerun & Player’s Guide to Faerun)
    All of these are regional feats and as such need a commoner to have 1 skill rank in Knowledge (Local) which isn’t too hard to accomplish.
    *Forester [Regional]: Gain a +1 bonus to Hide, Listen, Move Silently and Spot checks (+3 when in forests). If you are planning on putting your community in the woods this is an amazing feat. If effectively acts as four skill focuses and for a race like Jungle Halflings or Forest Gnomes this can really contribute to guerilla warfare.
    *Godsight [Regional and Cha 13]: Use Detect Evil, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Detect Undead and Read Magic as spell-like abilities three times per day. If you are looking for a feat to nab up spell-like abilities this is pretty much the best you’ll find. They are all divination-based but all serve a purpose and are practical in any community.
    *Magical Training [Regional]: Cast three 0-level spells per day. This grants you access to Craft (Alchemy) as a skill and thus the amazing potential that comes from it. In addition to that reason (which is the main reason for it) you gain access to three 0-level spells. I recommend (with the idea of a crafter picking this) Ghost Sound, Mending, Message, Prestidigitation, Read Magic or Repair Minor Damage.
    *Mercantile Background [Regional]: Buy & sell items at a discounted price as well as gain more money at character creation. 300 gp immediately out of the gate means a lot in a small community. This feat (just like Apprentice: Criminal) can contribute to the Fell Conspiracy combo (as mentioned later) but is also nice for getting things at a lower price. When used in conjunction with Wander’s Diplomacy or Resourceful Buyer you can have a shifty commoner acting as the main economic power in a community.

    Eberron (Eberron Campaign Setting, Dragonmarked)
    *Cannith Forgecraft [Requires Mark of Making]: Reroll a craft check 1/week; reduce time and cost to repair constructs; repair more damage to warforged. This doesn’t typically jump out as an amazing feat but it does create a pretty memorable commoner. If you have a crafter in your community this can give the feel of an auto mechanic, which can be nice.
    *Dinosaur Wrangler [Halfling & Handle Animal 1 rank]: +4 bonus on Bluff, Handle Animal, Sense Motive and Ride involving dinosaurs. As mentioned throughout the guide Handle Animal and Ride are solid skills and this is just one more instance in which, while it is fairly niche, aids the process. There aren’t too many amazing dinosaurs but this feat (combined with the Riding Bracers soulmeld) can snag a commoner a Mega-raptor.
    *Favored in House: Member of a powerful mercantile house, call in favors. A thematic-based feat but one that comes with some nice features. Calling in favors is actually a fairly solid ability to invest in (after all you are a commoner and more powerful reinforcements are always welcomed). That in addition to the noble standing can elevate a farmer to simply a looked-down upon third cousin to royalty.
    *Investigate: Use Search skill to analyze scene of a crime. While Search will always be a cross-class skill for any commoner this skill can add some nice flavor to any town member who hopes to solve a crime here or there.
    *Least Dragonmark: Choose a least dragonmark spell-like ability associated with your dragonmark house. These can be really awesome in giving a commoner a useful spell-like ability as well as a small bonus (and a sense of nobility within Eberron).
    *Half-Elf - Mark of Detection: Detect Magic 2/day or Detect Poison 2/day; +2 bonus on Spot checks. This one isn’t exactly crazy amazing so I’d pass on it & instead look at the Mark of Storms for a Half-Elf.
    *Half-Orc – Mark of Finding: Identify 1/day, Know Direction 2/day or Locate Object 1/day; +2 bonus on Search checks. This one is rather nice (and goes well with the Investigate feat mentioned above).
    *Human – Mark of Handling: Calm Animals 1/day, Charm Animal 1/day or Speak With Animals 1/day; +2 bonus on Handle Animal checks. A very solid feat and one that I would say is arguably better than Skill Focus (Handle Animal) for any Human.
    *Halfling – Mark of Healing: Cure Light Wounds 1/day or Lesser Restoration 1/day; +2 bonus on Heal checks. If you are building a healer in a community this a great feat to pick and ideally is going to be more useful than Skill Focus (Heal)
    *Halfling – Mark of Hospitality: Purify Food and Drink 2/day, Prestidigitation 2/day or Unseen Servant 2/day; +2 bonus on Diplomacy checks. While not as impressive as the Mark of Healing the Mark of Hospitality does bring with it nice spell-like abilities that serve a more practical purpose. If you should find a Halfling commoner with an extra feat this won’t hurt.
    *Human – Mark of Making: Make Whole 1/day, Mending 2/day or Repair Light Damage 1/day; +2 bonus on craft checks. This is a terrific feat for a human crafter as the spell-like ability is going to be useful and even beyond that the bonus applies to every craft skill, it is rather nice.
    *Human: - Mark of Passage: Expeditious Retreat 1/day, Mount 1/day or Dimensional Leap 1/day; +2 bonus on Survival checks. This feat doesn’t jump out as anything amazing and honestly Humans have a lot better choices. The one benefit I can see is being able to summon a light horse 1/day for 2 hours which could serve useful for any mounted archers.
    *Gnome – Mark of Scribing: Arcane Mark 2/day, Comprehend Languages 1/day or Whispering Wind 1/day; +2 bonus on Decipher Script checks. I tend to like this Dragonmark as it isn’t so much combat related but in a community its benefits could be used well. Sentries and scouts could use Whispering Wind to good use and spies/accountants might see a nice use for Arcane Mark as well as that small bonus to decipher script.
    *Human – Mark of Sentinel: Mage armor 1/day, Protection from Arrows 1/day, Shield of Faith 1/day or Shield Other 1/day; +2 bonus on Sense Motive checks. All of the spell-like abilities are rather lame to a degree (and can be better obtained through other means). I’d say pass on this as there are better choices for a Human.
    *Elf – Mark of Shadow: Darkness 1/day, Disguise Self 1/day or Minor Image 1/day; +2 bonus on Gather Information checks. A lot of utility and potential deception in this feat but only really useful for more subtle Elves, so it ends up not being terrible or terrific.
    *Half-Elf – Mark of Storms: Endure Elements 1/day, Fog Cloud 1/day or Gust of Wind 1/day; +2 bonus on Balance checks. Endure Elements is a very nice spell-like ability to obtain because of its duration which makes this an okay choice if your community is in a harsh environment.
    *Dwarf – Mark of Warding: Alarm 1/day, Arcane Lock 1/day, Fire Trap 1/day or Misdirection 1/day; +2 bonus on Search checks. All of the spell-like abilities here are amazing and practical. The bonus is well served and in general this can add a lot of flavor to any Dwarven commoner. You suddenly make any Dwarven farmer able to booby trap their home (given enough days).
    *Research: Use Knowledge to get information from books and scrolls. For a sage or librarian-based character this can be nice to serve in their niche of possessing knowledge.
    *Relic Hunter [RoE] [Appraise 1 rank & Knowledge (History) 1 rank]: +5 bonus on Appraise, Knowledge and Bardic Knowledge checks involving Dhakaani and Xen’drik items. Only really relevant in Eberron rarely does one get access to a +5 bonus on any skill. With enough homebrewing this can apply to any long-lost area of a campaign though so…
    *Right of Council [Elf]: Call on an undying ancestor for advice. Now this is probably one of the best reasons to be an Elven Commoner. You can’t abuse those too much but for the cost of a feat you’ll get access to a strong amount of divination via an Undying Ancestor.

    The Deep Dark (Drow of the Underdark and Dungeonscape)
    *Gnome Tunnel Acrobatics [Gnome]: Gain benefits in combat (Combat Pupeteer, Tunnel Scrambler and Wall Leaper). This isn’t the greatest tactical feat but there aren’t that many a commoner can gain access to and this one does offer some advantages should you have some gnomes take inspiration from the Veitcong.
    *Hammer and Piton [Str 15 and Climb 3 ranks]: Drive pitons into Large foe and climb him. Designed pretty much for Orcish commoners this is a pretty awesome, at least in style, combat technique which can help you attempt to handle large foes. While you should almost always stay out of melee sometimes it is inevitable, so this can be a nice surprise for a foe.
    *Master of Poisons: Apply poison as a swift action and with no chance. This is probably the easiest & most effective boost to ranged combat a commoner will see. Targeting a foe’s fortitude tends to be somewhat easier than their hit points and through the versatility of so many different poisons it becomes even better.
    *Undermountain Tactics [Gnome or Dwarf]: Gain benefits in combat (Stair King, Tunnel Fighter and Door Sentinel). Another tactical feat which has some nice tools but not necessarily strong so this, like Gnome Tunnel Acrobatics, ends up requiring you to specifically design commoners to utilize the feats.
    *Vow of Decadence [Vile, Unspeakable Vow]: Control effects on drugs, +4 competence bonus on Fort saves against ingested poisons. This is a subtle way to poison enemies in a more cordial manner. Becoming immune to drugs and poisons grants you an honesty when tricking someone to consume them as well. This is also a very flavorful feat as it can transform a commoner into a really vile member of a community.
    *Weapon and Torch: Burn and dazzle foes with lit torch. For melee-based commoners this is probably the best melee feat available. It costs nearly nothing and grants a free secondary fire-based attack as well as a chance to possible daze them. This is a really, really good feat for any commoner prepared for close-combat.

    The Dark & Depraved (Elder Evils, Exemplars of Evil, Fiendish Codex 1, Heroes of Horror & Lords of Madness)
    Most of these are fairly cool but the coolest thing is having your commoner pledge themselves to an elder evil as to pick up a free vile feat.
    *Aberration Blood [Humanoid]: Grants bonuses on skills. These can offer nice bonuses but the real point of this feat is to open up access to the other Aberration-based feats. Plus, sometimes you just have to make a commoner weird/gross.
    *Bulging Eyes: +2 bonus on Spot checks.
    *Flexible Limbs: +2 bonus on Grapple checks.
    *Segmented Eyes: +3 bonus on Search checks.
    *Slimy Skin: +4 bonus on Escape Artist checks.
    *Sticky Fingers: +3 bonus on Climb checks.
    *Tail: +4 bonus on Balance checks.
    *Webbed Hands: +4 bonus on Swim checks.
    *Darkstalker: Hide from creatures with extraordinary senses. For commoners hoping to excel at hiding this can keep you from being detected via a dog’s nose.
    *Debilitating Spell [Moderate Taint and Surge of Malevolence]: Spells become evil, deal Con or Wis damage. This is only really useful if you have used Magical Training to pick up a spell like Acid Splash or Electric Jolt. One to three points of damage may not put down a monster but ability damage can (and with enough commoners spamming it…).
    *Deformity (Madness) [Vile and Willing Deformity]: Take a -4 Wis penalty to gain immunity to mind-affecting spells and abilities, add ½ HD as a bonus on one Will save. This grants absolute immunity to all mind-affecting spells & abilities, that is a huge immunity to possess (and purchase for two feats). Your commoner may not come into contact with too many casters to demand this feat but giving it to one commoner in a community can add a lot of flavor (and offer a back-up plan for when other’s minds have been corrupted).
    *Fell Conspiracy [Wis 13 and Knowledge (Religion) 4 ranks]: Forge a link that enables easy communication. This is perhaps the best utility feat (competing against Practice Binder: Malphus) for a commoner. You’ll only need one in a community and you’ll also need a large source of income (Apprentice: Criminal or Mercantile Background sufficing) to make it work but when it does… A masterwork dagger and quick chant later and your village can have at-will messaging up to 100 ft. Monster coming? Danger at the old mill? This provides quick, free communication in addition to turning a commoner into a local priest. I’d go as far as to say every community needs at least one person with this feat (and it becomes even more powerful with someone utilizing Malphus as well).
    *Master’s Will [Vile, Chosen of Evil and Evil Brand]: Call upon elder evil for random results. Offers a solid gamble for results and through worship of an elder evil can be picked up in two feats (as opposed to all three a typical commoner may have access to).
    *Poison Healer [Great Fortitude and Con 13]: Any time you save against a poison, you heal damage equal to your Con bonus. This is a common combo utilized for cheap healing and beyond the practical applications of abusing alcohol for healing it is pretty darn flavorful. You can use this in conjunction with Shape Soulmeld (Lifebond Vestment) to create a drunken healer for any small-scale community.
    *Scavenging Gullet [Aberration Blood]: +4 bonus against poison, eat anything. An extremely flavorful feat and probably the best one to pick up as to allow access for the two other Aberattion-based feats. The ability to eat spoiled food can be used in a community and this can make a really unique ‘garbage-man’ for any community.
    *Slave to Evil [Vile and Chosen of Evil]: Gain aura of evil, minimize effects of evil spells cast on you; gain abilities that increase as master’s sign intensifies. This feat is just awesome and can really push an ordinary commoner into cult member status. It won’t offer up as much distinctive power as others but it does provide nice bonuses & abilities (plus you can get it through worship of an elder evil).
    *Spirit Sense [Wis 12, near death experience]: See and speak with the recently dead. A nice, flavorful ability to give to a commoner in a community (maybe the grave digger or sheriff), it allows for a brief sense of divination as you may have the chance to ask for last wishes or who a killer was before the spirit is lost forever.
    *Starspawn [Aberration Blood and one other aberrant feat]: Wings grant flight, resistance to cold 5, immunity to altitude fatigue & altitude sickness. It’ll cost three feats to unlock but cold resistance, immunities and limited flight are all pretty nice abilities. You’ll have to specifically design a commoner around attaining a feat like this but it can be a good one.
    *Surge of Malevolence [Mild Taint]: +3, +6 or +9 bonus on a single attack, save or check. Taint-based feats are dangerous but offer a lot of reward for proper application.
    *Waterspawn [LoM] [Aberration Blood and one other aberrant feat]: Fins grant Swim Bonus, resistance to cold 5, can breath air & water at equal ease. Like the above this feat does cost two others but it provides cold resistance, a swim speed and the ability to breath underwater. This can radically shift a commoner’s role in any community. You can go from a traditional farmer to that fisherman who catches a lot of food…

    Psionics (Expanded Psionics Handbook)
    Psionics are pretty awesome for a low scale community and offer a lot of advantages to measly old vancian spellcasting.
    *Hidden Talent: You gain 2 psionic power points, can now learn any psionic feat for which you meet the prerequisites, can expend your psionic focus, and can gain a single 1st-level power from any list. Now this feat is fairly amazing as it adds some versatility to any commoner in the form of a 1st-level power (and the ability to manifest it twice a day) which effectively makes them a manifester. Now this is a weird situation as this should open up Craft (Alchemy) to the commoner (because of transparency & such), if so this feat is almost always a better choice than Magical Training (except for the pure-crafting related spells like Mending & Repair Minor Damage). Now some of the nicer 1st-level powers to pick from are as follows:
    *Attraction: Subject has an attraction you specify; with a one hour duration and a +4 bonus to Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate and Sense Motive this is a rather nice power to use for a more socially-inclined commoner.
    *Chameleon: Gain +10 enhancement bonus on Hide checks; coming in with a ten minute duration this can add further bonuses to a sneakier commoner.
    *Disable: Subjects incorrectly believe they are disabled; this is a quick way for one commoner to take another out of a fight or other hostile situation. It has a nice duration and is suitable for a small community.
    *Inertial Armor: Tangible field of force provides you with +4 armor bonus to AC; invisible force-based armor that lasts for an hour? Oh yes, this is a tremendous ability for any militia-based commoner. It overrides not possessing armor proficiency and can be instantly summoned when a conflict happens.
    *Matter Agitation: You heat a creature or object; slow to build up but can provide a lot of utility and damage when utilized correctly. This is honestly a very nice power for a commoner to pick up.
    *Psionic Charm Person: Makes one person your friend; solid duration and benefit make this a keen choice for any commoner in a social position. Superior to Attraction this power offers an immediate ally, if only for an hour, to your cause. A lot of abuse can trickle down from this…
    *Psionic Minor Creation: Creates one cloth or wood object; the best, without competition, 1st-level power for a commoner. The versatility that springs forth from this is simply amazing and can really add an element of power to any commoner. Beyond the typical choices of summoning poison this power can summon rare ingrediants or foods. This is never a bad choice for a commoner to pick up.
    *Imprint Stone [Manifester level 1]: You can create power stones to store psionic powers. It’ll be a drain on your experience points but legally you are allowed to create them as a manifester. This demands a bit more complex work but if pulled off correctly you can be that commoner who makes magic rocks in the town.
    *Inquisitor [Wis 13]: You know when others lie. A terrific feat as a +10 bonus to Sense Motive is nothing to sneeze at. It requires Hidden Talent (or another way to obtain the psionic subtype) but for an investigator this can be a crucial choice.
    *Open Minded: You immediately gain an extra 5 skill points. Sometimes you just need more skill points… If you are attempting to turn a commoner into a mini-skill monkey this can be a useful step in the process.
    *Psycrystal Affinity [Manifester Level 1]: You have created a psicrystal. This is a tremendous feat which offers a pseudo-familiar for a commoner in addition to a nice bonus and the Alertness feat. Perhaps best for a crafter as the psicrystal can grant a flat +3 bonus to every craft check across the board. An amazing feat and one that is nearly never a bad choice to pick up.
    *Psionic Shot [Point Blank Shot]: You can charge your ranged attacks with additional damage potential. For a dedicated ranged-based commoner this is a good feat to invest in as it’ll offer a significant damage increase over other feats. It requires a feat like Hidden Talent to gain access to but adding +2d6 to an attack will turn your commoner into a mini-sniper.

    Exalted (Book of Exalted Deeds)

    These come with a lot of baggage but offer a lot of “protection” for a commoner. Remember though, except in certain builds, you’ll still want to stay away from the Vow of Poverty…
    *Vow of Nonviolence [Exalted] [Sacred Vow]: You have taken a sacred vow to avoid violence against humanoids. Offers a lot of role-playing potential and bonus to armor class but comes with a serious dedication. Because most commoners will want to avoid combat this can act as a pseudo-defense and also allows your commoner to put themselves to better activities (crafting or healing).
    *Vow of Peace [Exalted] [Sacred Vow and Vow of Nonviolence]: You have taken a sacred vow to abstain from harming any living creature. Bigger bonuses, bigger commitment; this is the feat for low level defense not only because of the increases armor class boost but because mundane weaponry have a chance to shatter upon striking you. And there is also that whole calming aura thingy too that isn’t too bad. A +4 bonus to diplomacy ends up making this a good, but heavy, choice for a commoner.
    *Touch of Golden Ice [Exalted] [Con 13]: Your touch is poisonous to evil creatures. This is the quickest identification of an evil person within any community. Distant traveler stopping in? One handshake will reveal if they are a vile soul. Beyond that practical purpose this can add a significant element to any commoner who has taken Improved Unarmed Strike. Your opponent may have a sharp knife but you have fists that cause righteous ice to explode deep in their skin… Yeah.

    Races and the Cities (Cityscape, Races of Destiny and Races of Stone)
    *Extra Contacts [Cha 11]: Increase your maximum number of contacts by four. Contacts are always nice and some of them (like recruiting an actual adventurer for a mission) can easily pay for themselves when dealing with scarier situations.
    *Favored [Membership in a Guild, Organization or Church]: You gain benefits to organization-related skills, as well as organization-specific organizations. This is vital to building a dedicated healer or sage, but it is also a rather nice skill for gaining small bonuses (or a wild boost to your income if you are a performer).
    *Primary Contact [Favored]: Gain a +1 bonus on one skill, and double the frequency of favors with one contact. Boosting your rank opens up the two skill tricks mentioned above but it also allows one to snag a synergy bonus (Bluff adds a +2 to four different skills for example).
    *Special Dispensation [Favored]: You can carry and wear items banned by the local authorities. A nice, flavorful feat for a sheriff or militia-based member of a community.
    *City Slicker: Certain skills are class skills for you (Disguise, Forgery, Gather Information and Knowledge (Local). Adding class skills is never a bad idea and this allows one to operate at a higher efficiency in an urban community.
    *Resourceful Buyer: Communities are considered larger for you when buying equipment. A tremendously useful feat as it’ll bump that 40 gp currency limit to 100 gp (which means you can effectively craft anything up to 300 gp).
    *Natural Trickster [Gnome & Cha 13]: Gain 1st-level illusion spell as spell-like ability (Disguise Self, Silent Image or Ventriloquism 1/day [only get one with the feat]). This feat is pretty much for Silent Image because of how widely powerful it is as a 1st-level illusion spell. Useable only once per day makes it a little weaker but the combat applications (traps…) makes it worth it.

    Miscellaneous (Player’s Handbook 2 and Tome of Magic)
    *Bind Vestige: Gain one power from a chosen 1st-level vestige. A solid feat but really comes online when coupled with the other two binding feats. One its own though you can nab poison use, a hide bonus or a scattering of skills to become proficient in…
    Improved Bind Vestige [Bind Vestige]: Bind one vestige up to 5th level. Needed to pull off the combo of Malphus’s bird eye viewing (the best divination ability for a commoner).
    *Practiced Binder [Bind Vestige]: Gain a second power from a bound vestige.
    *Leraje: Hide Bonus; Weapon Proficiency An okay selection but this isn’t why you are here…
    *Malphus: Poison Use; Bird’s Eye Viewing; This is it, the big boy. You invested three feats but it was so worth it. You immediately gain the ability to summon a bird & can see what they see as far as they may fly (or can also direct them where to go). This is the best divination available to a small community and when coupled with Fell Conspiracy it means your community can be alert & in-constant communication.
    *Naberius: Naberius’ Skills; Silver Tongue; While not as amazing as Malphus, Naberius offers himself up for a commoner building himself up into a mini-chameleon. A nice bonus to lying and a pseudo-investment in fake skills means he should be able to pass himself off as whatever he claims to be.
    *Wander’s Diplomacy [Halfling or 4 ranks in Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motive]: Gain special social abilities (Canny Merchant, Intuitive Communication and Social Agility). If you have a Halfling with an extra feat slot this is never a bad choice.
    Last edited by Zonugal; 2013-09-13 at 10:13 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    Default Re: The Commoner Handbook

    Tools of the Trade

    So with skills, races, abilities and feats covered our last place to shine some light on would be the tools/equipment that a commoner can properly utilize to elevate their own talents. In keeping with the rest of the guide we’ll be administering a financial limit of 40 gp (and 120 gp for crafting) which means we get to apply a tighter eye to how to spend our precious money.

    Basic Equipment
    *Ale, Mug (4 cp): For those abusing the Poison Healer feat this is your go to potion. Super cheap, super effective for setting up a healing combo via Dr. Jack Daniels in any community. The DC for common ale, wine and spirits is a fixed 11 which means you merely have to be able to reliably pass that to heal an individual.
    *Animal Training Outfit (10 gp) [A&EG]: Ahaha! HAHAH!!! Oh this outfit… While it was designed to protect during the training of hostile, guard animals (like dogs) it has a much better second purpose. When desired it can be used as a pseudo-improvised armor that even Commoners are still proficient in. While its stats may be small (+2 armor bonus, max dex bonus +1, ACP -7, speed 20ft./15ft.) it is still the only easily obtained armor for a commoner which means your melee-based militia members (the very few & proud) can gain some much needed protection.
    *Barbed Wire, 50ft. (75 gp) [A&EG]: You’ll have to get this one custom made by someone within the community but for establishing a defensive boundary or simply preparing for an invasion these can be crucial in halting chargers from all sides.
    *Black Bodysuit (30 gp) [A&EG]: Granting a +2 bonus to Hide this is a piece of equipment that is rather easy to obtain and assists in sneaking/skulking of some secret commoners.
    *Boiling Water: Free to make and when thrown on an opponent it deals 1d6 points of scalding damage. Often overlooked this can be a very nice weapon for even the most common-place commoner to prepare in advance of battle.
    *Caltrops (1 gp): Cheap and effective for their job which is slowing down any medium or small foe that may come into your community. Used very effectively in laying a trap or even covering a hasty retreat these can be a handy resource.
    *Chain, 10ft. (30 gp): Fairly expensive but if you need to keep someone tied up this is going to secure them with a strong advantage over typical rope what with a chain having a hardness of 10 (which practically means no one is going to be biting/clawing their way out).
    *Filter Mask (1 gp) [SS]: A cheap item to outfit any militia with, this mask provides a +2 bonus against gas-based effects as well as negates the effects of suffocation from dust & sand, as well as the effects of supernatural or magic dust for up to four hours. It’s a bit situational but for the price it offers a solid contingency against possible spells thrown towards you, in addition to allowing your militia to look a little bit more official with a mask.
    *Forester’s Cloak (20 gp) [A&EG]: A +1 bonus to hiding in the forest can add a little something for any guerilla warrior in a community set up in the woods.
    *Iron Spike (1 sp): Useful for locking certain doors, two of these hammered into a door effectively lock it which can give you more time to prepare for whatever may be on the other side.
    *Lard (2 sp) [DS]: Applying this to a ten-foot section of the floor replicates the effects of a grease spell for an hour. That is amazing and offers a lot of battlefield opportunities. If you know some creatures are coming to your community you can make good work of them by leading them to a severely greasy area and begin a ranged besiege.
    *Masterwork Tool (50 gp): Out of the ordinary budget of a small community possessing one of these (and everyone should) means having a dedicated crafter you specifically crafts masterwork tools. Now no exact DC is given for building such an item but a practical approach might say that the DC 20 of crafting a complex or superior item fits…
    *Oil, 1-Pint Flash (1 sp): These can serve as improvised weapons (which for their price are still rather good even with a 50% success rate) but if set up properly you can turn a battlefield into a scene of hellfire with enough applications. One of these won’t do anything but everyone in the community chucking flask after flash towards a fiery foe can end an encounter.
    *Portable Crane, Str 28 (120 gp) [A&EG]: This is expensive but sometimes you need to do some heavy lifting. This item pushes on the boundary of an expert crafter and the resources of his community, but it is capable of being created and thus utilized in preparing/building something for a town.
    *Shriek Rocks (3 gp) [A&EG]: When thrown these Halfling-designed rocks emit a sound equivalent to a human screaming. This can be used to great effect in guiding enemies towards ambushes or traps.
    *Silent Shows (10 gp) [AE&G]: Providing a small +1 bonus to Move Silent checks this is an easy and cheap way to add some support to any infiltrators or commoner ninjas.
    *Springwall (60 gp) [A&EG]: An effective mundane, and very mild, trap for a small community. Simply throw the small ball and you have a pseudo-Web effect. It takes a Spot DC of 20 and forces a reflex DC of 15 to not become entangled as if by a net. It won’t keep an enemy permanently ensnared but it’ll present enough time for the militia to unload some poisoned bolts…
    *Tree Stand (15 gp) [A&EG]: Secure one of these in a densly-covered tree and you’ll have a solid scouting position, with the +2 bonus to Hide helping out as well.

    Alchemical Items
    *Acid (10 gp; 15 DC to create): This has a lot of practical applications in addition to being a potent splash weapon. With a dedicated crafter you can pump out flasks at 3 gp which isn’t too bad for preparing a reserve should an Owlbear stomp its way into your town.
    *Baccaran (10 gp; DC 20 to create) [BoVD]: An inhaled drug that provides a bonus to strength & wisdom in exchange for a penalty towards illusions. For a traditional battle you melee-militia will gladly take the penalty in exchange for a higher attack/damage and will save. As it is a drug it is dangerous but its addicition rate is low so it isn’t a high risk.
    *Dreamily (1 gp; 25 DC to create) [SCoT]: Primarily used to offset excruciating pain this drug (with a high addiction rate so be wary of it) can be used by a healer in a small town to help any severely wounded commoner. In exchange for 1d4 wisdom damage the dugged character becomes at completely peace for eight hours, not even physical injury can disturb them. For a low-scale anesthetic this will do the job well.
    *Eggshell Grenade, Dust & Pepper (10 gp; 20 DC to create) [OA]: These two items are insanely powerful and as such one should make heavy use of them whenever possible in a small community. When thrown directly at their foe the victim, for dust, is immediately blinded for 1d4 rounds no save. Everyone within five feet splash of the dust eggshell grenade must make a Fort DC of 10 or be blinded for a round. As for pepper a direct hit immediately incapacities your foe for one round (Fort DC 10) as if they were stunned. Both of these open themselves up, more-so pepper as incredibly useful when thrown in mass. Monsters typically have fairly solid fortitude saves but they’ll have to fail one and when they do they are immediately open to attacks. Beyond that forcing an opponent to be blinded is a rather nice battlefield advantage. Either way these are a solid investment.
    *Flash Paper (5 gp) [OA]: This thin piece of rice paper, when rubbed together quickly, replicates the effect of a flare spell. While there is a possible combat possibility to using this to daze someone the real purpose should be to act as signal flares or an alarm for a sentry.
    *Festering Bomb (50 gp; 22 DC to create) [BoVD]: Not as practical as some other splash-based weapons but if your community is going to be under massive attack pumping out a couple of these can be useful. Upon exploding in a 20 ft. radius they force everyone within it to save against filth fever (which unlike usual doesn’t require the victims to be injured). Given enough time to hit an enemy before they can hit you these can be put to good use.
    *Healing Salve (50 gp; 25 DC to create) [LoD]: These are your cure potion substitutes. Each salve, when applied, heals for 1d8 points of damage. For 50 gp that doesn’t jump out as incredibly amazing but in a community with no divine healing these can be used as immediate life-savers. Having a couple of these on hand for severe accidents or wounds can really elevate a town.
    *Razor Ice Powder (50 gp; 25 DC to create) [FB]: Fairly difficult to create this powder, when sprinkled on a five foot area, grows razor ice which inflicts 1d4 slashing damage & 1d6 cold damage to anyone going through the square. This can act as a very nice mundane trap and with it needed a survival DC of 20 to notice it should be easy to catch foes in it.
    *Phantom Ink (10 gp; 20 DC to create) [LoD]: Ink that can only be seen depending on a specific light source brings a lot to the table for customizing a community. This author is a fan of moonlight phantom ink which effectively means towns can have pseudo-neon lighting for bars and other night-time establishments. This won’t really offer a combat-based bonus but they are simply a nice option for any small town.
    *Screaming Flask (40 gp; DC 25 to create) [CM]: A small torch-like object with a strong seal on top of it. When removed it lets lose a 15-ft. cone of high-powered shrieking that causes 1d8 points of sonic damage and the possibility of being deafened for 1 minute afterward (Fort DC 15). This is an amazing weapon for a small community as sonic damage is so rarely resisted by monsters/adventurers. It’s significantly harder to make so you’ll need a couple commoners pitching together but it is well worth it. It’ll give you position away but if you can line-up a squad of militia-members with each preparing one of these you can potentially one-shot a monster with the right readied-action.
    *Shriek Paste (50 gp; 20 DC to create) [Und]: Whenever this purple paste is exposed to torch-light or brighter it immediately lets off a huge scream. This can act as an amazing alarm system for a small community allowing sentries to better position themselves and for the local guard to be aware of when & where a disturbance may come from.
    *Sleeping Fire, Flask (40 gp; 20 DC to create) [OA]: A very cheap trap, this item is amazing. When applied to an object it will immediately trigger a blast of fire dealing 1d3 damage and another 1d3 damage the next round (the target can prevent this by using a full-round action to put out the flames) whenever that object’s temperate changes (such as from being breathed upon or touched). This is insidious if a community knows a foe is coming. Simply placing this on door-knobs, treasure and anything else can really scare an opponent from doing anything.
    *Tanglefoot Bag (50 gp; 25 DC to create): The classic glue-bomb of D&D this alchemical substance, which is a bit harder to create so you’ll need some individuals to assist, is a natural in commoner defense. Once an opponent is stuck in place their mobility is shut-down and you can begin to pepper them with crossbow bolts, acid and other ranged weapons.
    *Vodare (40 gp; 15 DC to create) [BoVD]: An ingested drug that provides bonuses to intimidation & fear-like affects during its duration in exchange for some penalties to diplomacy & bluff. The first practical use of this is for any militia-members during a battle. Drugs are dangerous stuff (expecially this one with an extreme addiction rate) but you don’t exactly have access to traditional buffs via spells so you have to take what you can. The second use of this is to use it as a poison. If you can make enough you may have the chance of lobbing it towards a monster’s mouth or simply tricking a creature into drinking it down. Should they have two doses though they become catatonic (Fort DC 15) which really has no definition in D&D so this author takes it to mean paralyzed. Either way it’s a quick way to possibly take out a monster.

    Poison
    A point should be noted that poison can be made at one-sixth the base cost of it which once again lets us expand our base community allowance of 40 gp to 240 gp for the purposes of seeing which poison we can craft.
    *Carrion Crawler Brain Juice (200 gp; 15 DC to create): If you can find the brain juice you can get a contact poison (Fort DC 13) which causes paralysis for 2d6. A very nice stun-poison that will allow you militia to do their work.
    *Drow Poison (75 gp; 15 DC to create): A classic knock-out tool this injury poison (Fort DC 13) causes an initial unconsciousness for one minute and than unconsciousness for 1d3 hours as its secondary effect. For capturing an opponent or frenzied commoner in a non-lethal capacity this stuff is pretty good.
    *Id Moss (125 gp; 15 DC to create): An ingested poison (Fort DC 14) that offers some significant damage to intelligence. Initially 1d4 intelligence damage with a secondary 2d6 intelligence damage which is nothing to look down upon. This is a really nice poison to use against any animals, magical beasts or monsters with low intelligence scores that will eat any tainted food left out for them.
    *Stun Gas (40 gp) [Und]: An inhaled poison (Fort DC 12) that initially stuns for one round and secondarily stuns for 1d4 rounds. These can be nice to provide towards melee-militia members for some pseudo-SWAT like action as they lob a canister of this stuff towards an opponent.

    Assistants
    Within the Arms & Equipment Guide there are some quick rules for hiring mercenaries. Now typically I would recommend against hiring outside force because you can generally do well with a town’s militia (and the fact that the mercenary holds no real loyalty towards the community) but sometimes you need a hardened veteran of combat to lead your men. Sometimes you need a monster to scary away an impending force or sometimes you just need some big hands.
    *Aasimar (2 sp per day): Noble, good warriors who may not have great strength but make up for it in their loyalty. They are both wise and charismatic, two superb traits for a military leader. In addition they have the right attitude to inspire a militia to greater lengths.
    *Minotaur (8 gp per day): An expensive price but if you need to intimidate an opposing force this is an excellent way to go about it. Have this guy go ahead of your troops and watch out for his bloodlust.
    *Pixie (8 gp per day): For a small community this is the best thief you’ll be able to hire. Certainly not cheap, but if you need some surveillance or an item retrieved you aren’t going to find a better recruit.
    *Hill Giant (14 gp per day): These huge creatures serve very well as siege weaponry and as improvised constructors for a community. Need to build a quick structure, dig out a cave-in at the mines, or shape a battlefield fast, these are the guys to call.
    Last edited by Zonugal; 2013-09-13 at 10:14 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    Default Re: The Commoner Handbook

    Sample Commoner Packages

    For the purposes of these builds I will show a classic, 1st-level commoner as to not only act as our control but to demonstrate how much optimization can truly be achieved when applied to commoners.

    The Classic Commoner: Male Human Commoner; CR ½; Medium Humanoid (human); HD 1d4+0; hp 4; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 10 (10 +0 dex), touch 10, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +0; Grp +0; Atk +0 melee (1d6+0/x2, 10ft.; club); SA; SQ; AL TN; SV Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +0; Str 10, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10.
    Skills and Feats: Craft (Carpentry) +3 (3 ranks +0 int), Craft (Tailoring) +1 (1 rank +0 int), Handle Animal +7 (4 ranks +0 wis +3 skill focus), Profession (Farmer) +7 (4 ranks +0 wis +3 skill focus) and Read/Write/Speak (Common); Skill Focus (Profession: Farmer) and Skill Focus (Handle Animal).
    Equipment (15 gp on average): Club (0 gp), Traveler’s Outfit (1 gp), Hoe (3 gp), Pitch Fork (2 gp), Artisan’s Tools (5 gp), 50ft. of Hemp Rope (1 gp) and 3 Goats (4 gp).

    This is your rather classic commoner, who was built with the least amount of optimization I could without actually going against myself. He has some skill in his two fields of practice, handling animals & farming. He has also dabbled in some basic carpentry & tailoring as to make himself more versatile. He pulls in an average of eight gold pieces a week which is more than needed to sustain his way of life. He can rear a wild animal possessing up to two hit die on average (which should cover goats, pigs and spans over to dogs & wolves as well) and teach it to work and perform heavy labor. He can construct, on average, a very simple or typical item within the fields of carpentry & tailoring. He is your absolutely ordinary goat farmer who with enough saved gold pieces (which is really feasible within D&D economic model) be able to afford a masterwork tool for his profession over time (thus upgrading his weekly income).
    Your classic commoner should be able to (using Cityscape as a loose model) within a month rent out a something akin to a poor apartment, afford a hearty meal (with a tankard of ale) for every meal and set aside 19 gold pieces to cover any other expenses (or for savings).

    The Optimized Commoner: Male Middle-Aged Human Commoner; CR ½; Medium Humanoid (human); HD 1d4+0; hp 4; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 10 (10 +0 dex), touch 10, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +0; Grp +0; Atk -2 melee (1d6+0/x2, 10ft.; club); SA; SQ; AL TN; SV Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +1; Str 10, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 12.
    Skills and Feats: Craft (Carpentry) +4 (3 ranks +1 int), Craft (Tailoring) +2 (1 rank +1 int), Handle Animal +11 (4 ranks +1 wis +3 skill focus +1 uncivilized +2 animal affinity), Knowledge (Geography) +2 (1 rank +1 int), Knowledge (Local) +2 (1 rank +1 int), Knowledge (Nature) +5 (4 ranks +1 int), Profession (Farmer) +9 (4 ranks +1 wis +3 skill focus +1 specialized), Read/Write/Speak (Common) and Survival +7 (4 ranks +1 wis +2 apprentice bonus); Animal Affinity, Apprentice (Woodsman), Skill Focus (Profession: Farmer) and Skill Focus (Handle Animal).
    Traits and Flaws: Specialized (Profession: Farmer) & Uncivilized; Non-combatant & Shaky
    Equipment (15 gp on average): Club (0 gp), Traveler’s Outfit (1 gp), Hoe (3 gp), Pitch Fork (2 gp), Artisan’s Tools (5 gp), 50ft. of Hemp Rope (1 gp) and 3 Goats (4 gp).

    Comparing between the classic commoner and the optimized version we see some notable differences. Assuming an 11 in stats we bring the commoner to middle aged which provides a suitable bonus to nearly all of his skills in addition to granting him a bonus skill point (which we invest in some knowledge skills) & increased will save. By taking flaws which will almost never impact the commoner’s life we are able to provide him with a deeper understanding of handling animals, the natural world and how to survive in it (in addition to being able to track DC’s under 20). So our commoner is now a learned individual with considerable advantages over the classic commoner. He earns more money (2 gp more per week), his crafting is a little bit better and he has gained access to handling horses, bears and lions should the situation arise. He lives with fairly the same standard as the classic commoner expect for being able to set aside 27 gold pieces each month instead of 19.

    With that demonstrated though let us explore some of the different options one can take with commoners.

    The Artisan: Male Middle-Aged Human Commoner 1; CR ½; Medium Humanoid (human); HD 1d4+0; hp 4; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 10 (10 +0 dex), touch 10, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +0; Grp +0; Atk -2 ranged (1d6 acid/x2, 10ft.; touch attack; acid); SA; SQ Mark of Making (Make Whole 1/day); AL TN; SV Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +1; Str 10, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 12.
    Skills and Feats: Appraise +5 (4 ranks +1 int), Craft (Alchemy) +13 (4 ranks +1 int +2 apprentice bonus +2 Mark of Making +3 Psicrystal bonus +1 specialized), Craft (Blacksmithing) +7 (1 rank +1 int +2 apprentice bonus +2 Mark of Making +3 Psicrystal bonus -2 specialized), Craft (Bowmaking) +8 (2 ranks +1 int +2 apprentice bonus +2 Mark of Making +3 Psicrystal bonus -2 specialized), Craft (Carpentry) +7 (1 rank +1 int +2 apprentice bonus +2 Mark of Making +3 Psicrystal bonus -2 specialized), Craft (Trapmaking) +8 (2 ranks +1 int +2 apprentice bonus +2 Mark of Making +3 Psicrystal bonus -2 specialized), Craft (Weaponsmithing) +8 (2 rank + 1 int +2 apprentice bonus +2 Mark of Making +3 Psicrystal bonus -2 specialized), Heal +2 (1 rank +1 wis), Knowledge (Architecture & Engineering) +6 (4 ranks +1 int +1 absent minded) and Read/Write/Speak (Common & Elven); Apprentice (Crafter), Hidden Talent (Psionic Minor Creation), Least Dragonmark (Mark of Making [Make Whole 1/day]), and Psicrystal Affinity (Crafter).
    Traits & Flaws: Absent Minded & Specialized (Craft: Alchemy); Noncombatant & Shaky
    Equipment (38 gp [18 gp if crafted]; 6 lb.): 3 Acid Flasks (30 gp; 1 lb.), Artisan’s Outfit (1 gp; 4 lb.), Artisan Tool’s (5 gp; 5 lb.), and Merchant’s Scale (2 gp; 1 lb.).

    Perhaps the most important person in an optimized commoner community, this guy effectively is the life-blood to a small town’s welfare & safety. Beyond the soldiers, the militia and anything else this guy makes defending a town possible. The ability to create and stock your commoners with tools, weapons, healing and more is invaluable. Not only is his role practical but absolutely necessary.

    The Doctor: Male Middle-Aged Human Commoner 1; CR ½; Medium Humanoid (human, psionic); HD 1d4+0; hp 4; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 10 (10 +0 dex), touch 10, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +0; Grp +0; Atk -2 melee (1d4+0/x2, 10ft.; dagger); SA; SQ; AL TN; SV Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +3; Str 10, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 12.
    Skills and Feats: Concentration +2 (0 ranks +2 apprentice bonus), Craft (Alchemy) +8 (4 ranks +1 int +2 focused skill user +1 specialized), Heal +8 (2 ranks +1 wis +3 skill focus +2 focused skill user), Knowledge (Local) +5 (4 ranks +1 int), Read/Write/Speak (Commoner & Elven), and Sense Motive +8 (4 ranks +1 wis +2 focused skill user +1 suspicious); Apprentice (Philosopher), Focused Skill User (Craft: Alchemy, Heal & Sense Motive), Hidden Talent (Precognition), and Skill Focus (Heal).
    Traits & Flaws: Specialized (Craft: Alchemy) & Suspicious; Noncombatant & Shaky.
    Equipment (155 gp [56 gp if crafted]; 7 lb.): A Dagger (2 gp; 1 lb.), 2 doses of Dreamily (2 gp; 0 lb.), 2 Healing Salves (100 gp; 0 lb.), a Healer’s Kit (50 gp; 1 lb.) and a Traveler’s Outfit (1 gp; 5 lb.).

    The Doctor serves a main purpose and a back-up one (as provided for no other reason than I could) within a small community. He can handle every disease within the Player’s Handbook as well as a multitude of poisons (including the big hitters like Black Lotus Extract, Wyvern Poison & Deathblade). But beyond preventative services the Doctor is also a sound judge of character assisting in investigations (he ends up looking a bit more like Dr. Watson) and also provides constructive assistant to the Artisan in alchemy production. He isn’t as supernatural as Dr. Jack Daniels (seen below) but is fairly vital to the longevity of a community.

    The Melee-Based Militia: Male Middle-Aged Human Commoner 1; CR ½; Medium Humanoid (human); HD 1d4+0; hp 4; Init +0; Spd 20 ft.; AC 12 (10 +0 dex +2 armor), touch 10, flat-footed 12; Base Atk +0; Grp +0; Atk +0 melee (1d6+0/x2, 10ft.; club); SA; SQ Mark of Making (Make Whole 1/day); AL TN; SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +1; Str 10, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 10.
    Skills and Feats: Craft (Blacksmithing) +4 (1 rank +1 int +2 mark of making), Craft (Carpentry) +4 (1 rank +1 int +2 mark of making), Disable Device +2 (1 rank +1 int), Intimidation +6 (4 ranks +0 cha +2 apprentice bonus), Knowledge (Local) +5 (4 ranks +1 int), Listen +3 (2 ranks +1 wis), Profession (Merchant) +9 (4 ranks +1 wis +3 skill focus +1 specialized), Read/Write/Speak (Common & Elven) and Spot +3 (2 ranks +1 wis); Apprentice (Soldier), Least Dragonmark (Mark of Making [Make Whole 1/day]), Skill Focus (Profession: Merchant) and Weapon & Torch.
    Traits & Flaws: Specialized (Profession: Merchant); Shaky & Pathetic (Charisma)
    Equipment (91 gp [43 gp if crafted]; 28 lb.): Animal Training Outfit (10 gp; 20 lb.) [(+2 armor bonus, max dex bonus +1, ACP -7, speed 20ft./15ft.], Artisan’s Tools (5 gp; 5 lb.), 1 dose of Baccaran (10 gp; 0 lb.), Club (0 gp; 1 lb.), Dust Eggshell Grenade (10 gp, 0 lb.), Filter Mask (1 gp; 0 lb.), 2 torches (2 cp; 2 lb.), Flash Paper (5 gp; 0 lb.), and 1 Healing Salve (50 gp; 0 lb.).

    This type of militia unit won’t be as prevalent as their ranged counter-part but a build like this acts well as an emergency reserve when melee skill is needed. Having a practical back-story they function in every way appropriate for a small community but can also enact justice & the law should disarray fall over their town. Against a larger threat like actual adventurers or monsters they should retire to assist their ranged brothers-in-arms but for dealing with smaller scale conflicts they can be nice.

    The Ranged-Based Militia: Male Middle-Aged Human Commoner 1; CR ½; Medium Humanoid (human); HD 1d4+0; hp 4; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 10 (10 +0 dex), touch 10, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +0; Grp +0; Atk +0 ranged (1d8/19-20x2, 80ft.; light crossbow); SA; SQ Mark of Making (Make Whole 1/day); AL TN; SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +1; Str 10, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 10.
    Skills and Feats: Craft (Blacksmithing) +4 (1 rank +1 int +2 mark of making), Craft (Carpentry) +4 (1 rank +1 int +2 mark of making), Disable Device +2 (1 rank +1 int), Intimidation +6 (4 ranks +0 cha +2 apprentice bonus), Knowledge (Local) +5 (4 ranks +1 int), Listen +3 (2 ranks +1 wis), Profession (Merchant) +8 (4 ranks +1 wis +3 skill focus), Read/Write/Speak (Common & Elven) and Spot +3 (2 ranks +1 wis); Apprentice (Soldier), Least Dragonmark (Mark of Making [Make Whole 1/day]), Point Blank Shot and Skill Focus (Profession: Merchant).
    Traits & Flaws: Specialized (Profession: Merchant); Non-combatant & Pathetic (Charisma)
    Equipment (99 gp [36 gp if crafted]; 15 lbs.): Dust Eggshell Grenade (10 gp, 0 lb.), Filter Mask (1 gp; 0 lb.), Flash Paper (5 gp; 0 lb.), Healing Salve (50 gp; 0 lb.), Light Crossbow & 20 bolts (37 gp; 10 lb.) and a Traveler’s Outfit (1 gp; 5 lb.).

    Much more in demand for the conflicts of a small town the highlight of these ranged-militia members is that they can join in unity with the Phoenix Guard for a missle-volley teamwork benefit. Against a threat these folks can launch bolts at a +8 attack bonus which is substantial as they are CR ½ commoner threats. Alongside all of this they serve practical purposes in a community through their profession (which can honestly be anything, merchant is just a place-holder) and crafting.

    The Phoenix Guard: Male Fire Elf Commoner 1; CR ½; Medium Humanoid (elf); HD 1d4-1; hp 2; Init +1; Spd 40 ft.; AC 11 (10 +1 dex), touch 11, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +0; Grp +0; Atk +1 ranged (1d8/x3, 100ft.; longbow); SA; SQ Elven Traits, Low-Light Vision, Fire Resistance 5; AL LN; SV Fort -2, Ref +1, Will +0; Str 10, Dex 12, Con 8, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 8.
    Skills and Feats: Climb +2 (2 ranks +0 str), Hide +3 (0 ranks +1 dex +2 black body suit), Intimidation +3 (4 ranks -1 cha), Jump +6 (2 ranks +0 str +4 speed bonus), Knowledge +5 (Local) (4 ranks +1 int), Listen +6 (4 ranks +0 wis +2 racial bonus), Move Silently +2 (0 ranks +1 dex +1 silent shoes), Read/Write/Speak (Common, Elven and Slyvan) Search +2 (0 ranks +1 int +2 racial bonus -2 farsighted), Spot +7 (4 ranks +0 wis +2 racial bonus +1 farsighted); Apprentice (Soldier), Master of Poisons and Point Blank Shot.
    Traits & Flaws: Farsighted & Quick; Meager Fortitude & Non-combatant
    Equipment (258 gp [105 gp if crafted]; 12 lbs.): Black Bodysuit (30 gp; 2 lb.), 1 dose of Drow Poison (75 gp; 0 lb.), Dust Eggshell Grenade (10 gp, 0 lb.), Filter Mask (1 gp; 0 lb.), Flash Paper (5 gp; 0 lb.), Healing Salve (50 gp; 0 lb.), Longbow & 20 arrows (77 gp; 9 lbs.) and Silent Shoes (10 gp; 1 lb.).

    Without any actual ranks in profession these are the town’s military personnel. Taxes and such would naturally have to pay them a salary but in return for your commoners losing out a gold piece or two a week (which if they are optimized is really nothing) they bring a lot. The first advantage is that these guys can act as 24 hour security for your community. They have no duties on the farm or workshop, they are paid to monitor the safety of the community (a task they are proficient in with their skill bonuses). They are weaker in body than an ordinary commoner but this is a sacrifice for faster speed, better weapon proficiencies and greater talents of detection. Their proficiency with a longbow alone makes the choice to make them Elves worth it as it saves them a feat (Rapid Reload…) and longer distance to engage a foe. Elves don’t sleep so they are once again terrific town guards and low-light vision is only a better treat. Using the missile-volley teamwork benefit they can fire upon an invader at +9 to hit with poison tipped arrows up to 100 ft. away. That is serious stopping power for a commoner-based community. Which correlates to their skills all being dedicated to movement and evasion, as they will fail immediately within melee combat (so in some ways they are similar to the Tau from Warhammer 40k). Lastly they have some expertise in intimidation and local knowledge which makes them a perfect substitute for a pseudo-police force.

    The Phoenix Eye: Male Fire Elf Commoner 1; CR ½; Medium Humanoid (elf); HD 1d4-1; hp 2; Init +1; Spd 40 ft.; AC 11 (10 +1 dex), touch 11, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +0; Grp +0; Atk +1 ranged (1d8/x3, 150ft.; longbow); SA; SQ Elven Traits, Low-Light Vision, Fire Resistance 5; AL LN; SV Fort -4, Ref +1, Will +0; Str 10, Dex 12, Con 8, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 8.
    Skills and Feats: Climb +2 (2 ranks +0 str), Hide +3 (0 ranks +1 dex +2 black body suit), Jump +6 (2 ranks +0 str +4 speed bonus), Listen +6 (4 ranks +0 wis +2 racial bonus), Move Silently +2 (0 ranks +1 dex +1 silent shoes), Read/Write/Speak (Common, Elven and Slyvan) Search +2 (0 ranks +1 int +2 racial bonus -2 farsighted), Spot +7 (4 ranks +0 wis +2 racial bonus +1 farsighted); Far Shot, Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot.
    Traits & Flaws: Farsighted & Quick; Meager Fortitude & Non-combatant
    Equipment (183 gp [92 gp if crafted]; 12 lbs.): Black Bodysuit (30 gp; 2 lb.), Dust Eggshell Grenade (10 gp, 0 lb.), Filter Mask (1 gp; 0 lb.), Flash Paper (5 gp; 0 lb.), Healing Salve (50 gp; 0 lb.), Longbow & 20 arrows (77 gp; 9 lbs.) and Silent Shoes (10 gp; 1 lb.).

    Not as proficient in poison use or acting as a pseudo-police force, these guys are spotters for the Phoenix Guard and are the obviously needed component to use the missile-volley teamwork benefit.

    The Phoenix Sniper: Male Fire Elf Commoner 1; CR ½; Medium Humanoid (elf, psionic); HD 1d4-1; hp 3; Init +1; Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (10 +1 dex), touch 11, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +0; Grp +0; Atk +1 ranged (1d8/x3, 100ft.; longbow); SA; SQ Elven Traits, Low-Light Vision, Fire Resistance 5; AL LN; SV Fort -4, Ref +1, Will +0; Str 10, Dex 12, Con 8, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 8.
    Skills and Feats: Hide +16 (2 ranks +1 dex +1 forester’s cloak +2 tree stand +10 chameleon bonus), Listen +4 (4 ranks +0 wis +2 racial bonus -2 hard of hearing), Move Silently +2 (0 ranks +1 dex +1 silent shoes), Read/Write/Speak (Common, Elven and Slyvan) Search +2 (0 ranks +1 int +2 racial bonus -2 farsighted), Spot +8 (4 ranks +0 wis +2 racial bonus +1 farsighted +1 hard of hearing); Hidden Talent (Chameleon), Point Blank Shot and Psionic Shot.
    Traits & Flaws: Farsighted & Hard of Hearing; Meager Fortitude & Non-combatant
    Equipment (188 gp [92 gp if crafted]; 18 lbs.): Dust Eggshell Grenade (10 gp, 0 lb.), Filter Mask (1 gp; 0 lb.), Flash Paper (5 gp; 0 lb.), Forester’s Cloak (20 gp; 3 lbs.), Healing Salve (50 gp; 0 lb.), Longbow & 20 arrows (77 gp; 9 lbs.), Silent Shoes (10 gp; 1 lb.) and a Tree Stand (15 gp; 5 lbs.)

    Acting separate from the Phoenix Guard unit these soldiers act as sentries and, as their name would indicate, snipers. They have a sizable hide bonus (nothing compared to Charlie as demonstrated below) which should help them stay out of sight and land their big shot. Sniping, as through the rules, will bring them to a -4 which is better than being at -16 when trying to remain hidden after firing and all of this culminates in them hopefully being able to land an arrow capable of inflicting 20 points of damage (average 13). They will ultimately act in an auxiliary role as a foe should be pinned down by a missile-volley teamwork benefit allowing them to make selective firings upon them from high above.

    Dr. Jack Daniels: Male Mongrelfolk Commoner 1; CR ½; Medium Humanoid (human); HD 1d4+2; hp 6; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 10 (10 +0 dex), touch 10, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +0; Grp +0; Atk -2 melee (1d4+0/x2, 10ft.; dagger); SA; SQ Low-Light Vision, Sound Imitation, Immunity to Magic Sleep, ; AL CN; SV Fort +6, Ref -1, Will -1; Str 10, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 6
    Skills and Feats: Craft (Liquor) +3 (4 ranks -1 int), Hide +4 (0 ranks +0 dex +4 racial bonus), Read/Write/Speak (Common & Mongrel), Sleight of Hand +4 (0 ranks +0 dex +4 racial bonus); Great Fortitude, Poison Healer and Shape Soulmeld (Lifebond Vestment).
    Traits & Flaws: Hardy & Passionate; Noncombatant & Shaky
    Equipment (9 gp [9 gp if crafted]; 43 lbs.): A Dagger (2 gp; 1 lb.), Traveler’s Outfit (1 gp; 5 lbs.), Artisan’s Tools (5 gp; 5 lbs.) and 4 gallons of Weak Ale (8 sp; 32 lbs.).

    Acting as a reflection of the Doctor’s medical proficiency, Dr. Jack Daniels is a supernatural healer who draws his mystic ability from the bottom of a bottle. His basic operation is healing severely wounded individuals, dolling out ten hit points of healing (and five hit points of damage to himself). Afterward he begins to drink his weak ale and with it being a Fort DC of 10 he succeeds 80% of the time. Succeeding he heals two hit points, if he fails he merely gets drunk. It is a very good business plan for him. Beyond his role as a mystic healer Dr. Jack Daniels merely functions as the town drunk, one that the community can’t risk getting rid of should an emergency hit someone. In his down time he crafts his own beer, which is a nasty brew, for himself & others.

    Charlie: Male Forest Gnome Commoner 1; CR ½; Small Humanoid (gnome); HD 1d4+0; hp 4; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (10 +0 dex +1 size bonus), touch 11, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +0; Grp -5; Atk +1 ranged (1d6+0/19-20x2, 80ft.; light crossbow); SA; SQ Low-Light Vision, Pass Without Trace (CL 1), SLA (1/day - Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound, Prestidigitation); AL CN; SV Fort -2, Ref +0, Will +0; Str 9, Dex 11, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10.
    Skills and Feats: Craft (Trapmaking) +3 (2 ranks +0 wis +1 specialized), Hide +15/+21 (0 ranks +0 dex +4 racial bonus [+8 in wooded areas] +4 size bonus +4 Kruthik Claws +1 forester [+3 in forests] +2 black bodysuit), Knowledge (Local) +1 (1 rank +0 int), Listen +5/+7 (2 ranks +0 wis +2 racial bonus +1 forester [+3 in forests]), Move Silently +6/+8 (0 ranks +0 dex +4 Kruthik Claws +1 forester [+3 in forests] +1 silent shoes), Read/Write/Speak (Gnome, Elven, Sylvan, and a simple language that enables them to communicate on a very basic level with forest animals) and Spot +3/+5 (2 ranks +0 wis +1 forester [+3 in forests]); Darkstalker, Forester and Shape Soulmeld (Kruthik Claws).
    Traits & Flaws: Quick & Specialized (Craft: Trapmaking); Meager Fortitude & Noncombatant.
    Equipment (144 gp [77 gp if crafted]; 5 lb.): Black Bodysuit (30 gp; 1 lb.), Dust Eggshell Grenade (10 gp, 0 lb.), Filter Mask (1 gp; 0 lb.), Flash Paper (5 gp; 0 lb.), Healing Salve (50 gp; 0 lb.), Light Crossbow (with 20 bolts) (37 gp; 3 lbs.) and Silent Shoes (10 gp; .5 lb.).

    Charlie is probably the best sneaker you can build with a commoner. Practically undetectable and a whole slew of skills & talents mean a couple of these guys can pester an opponent for a very long time. The racial ability to communicate with forest animals on a basic level means you have just opened up a whole new level of scouts. In addition to that Forest Gnomes come with the nice flavor of having an average height of two feet which means you can hide in a lot of unconventional areas (I mean one could hide inside a backpack for example).

    Father Hivemind: Male Old-Aged Human Commoner; CR ½; Medium Humanoid (human); HD 1d4-1; hp 3; Init -1; Spd 30 ft.; AC 9 (10 -1 dex), touch 9, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +0; Grp -1; Atk -3 melee (1d4+0/x2, 10ft.; dagger); SA; SQ; AL TN; SV Fort -1, Ref -1, Will +3; Str 8, Dex 8, Con 8, Int 13, Wis 13, Cha 13.
    Skills and Feats: Craft (Writing) +5 (4 ranks +1 int), Knowledge (Arcana) +3 (1 rank +1 int +1 absent-minded), Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +3 (1 rank +1 int +1 absent-minded), Knowledge (Religion) +6 (4 ranks +1 int +1 absent-minded), Knowledge (the Planes) +4 (2 ranks +1 int +1 absent-minded), Perform (Oratory) +3 (2 ranks +1 cha), Read/Write/Speak (Common & Abyssal), Sense Motive +5 (4 ranks +1 wis); Apprentice (Philosopher), Fell Conspiracy and Research.
    Traits & Flaws: Absent-Minded; Noncombatant & Shaky
    Equipment (313 gp [111 gp if crafted]; 12 lb.): Artisan’s Tools (5 gp; 5 lbs.), Masterwork Dagger (302 gp; 1 lb.), Scholar’s Outfit (5 gp; 6 lbs.), and a Wooden Holy Symbol (1 gp).

    This character functions as the primary communication hub for any small community. Through use of the Fell Conspiracy feat (which requires you have another character using the Mercantile Background or Apprentice: Criminal feat to fund) Father Hivemind provides everyone in the ceremony (which I don’t believe is ever given a limit, so lets say the whole town engages in it) at-will Message. To break that down every one within 100 feet of each other can communicate in a manner similar to walky-talkies. From a practical perspective this sets up a pseudo-telephone system but for the militia & town soldiers this can be vital in setting up ambushes & relaying information. Beyond all of this though Father Hivemind acts as the town’s sage regarding mystical knowledge as well as the community priest.

    Panzer: Male Venerable Desert Kobold Commoner; CR ½; Small dragon (reptilian); HD 1d4+0; hp 62; Init +1; Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (10 +1 dex +2 armor +1 size +1 natural armor), touch 13, flat-footed 11; Base Atk +0; Grp -6; Atk -2 melee (2 1d3-2/20x2, 2 claws) & -7 melee (1d3-2/20x2, bite) or +2 ranged (1d6/19-20x2, 80ft.; light crossbow); SA; SQ Darkvision (60ft.), Sleight Build; AL TN; SV Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +1; Str 6, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 12.
    Skills and Feats: Craft (Trapmaking) +5 (2 ranks +1 int +2 racial bonus), Hide +2 (0 ranks +1 dex +8 racial -7 acp), Listen +5 (4 ranks +1 wis), Read/Write/Speak (Common, Draconic, Undercommon), Profession (Miner) +5 (4 ranks +1 wis), Search +4 (0 ranks +2 int +2 racial bonus), Spot +5 (4 ranks +1 wis), Survival +4 (1 rank +1 wis +2 racial bonus); Dragonwrought, Epic Toughness (x2)
    Traits & Flaws: Quick; Frail & Pathetic (Charisma)
    Equipment (103 gp [47 gp if crafted]; 13 lb.): Animal Training Outfit (10 gp; 10 lb.) [(+2 armor bonus, max dex bonus +1, ACP -7, speed 20ft./15ft.], .), Filter Mask (1 gp; 0 lb.), Flash Paper (5 gp; 0 lb.), Healing Salve (50 gp; 0 lb.) and Light Crossbow (with 20 bolts) (37 gp; 3 lbs.).

    This is probably the cheesiest option right out of the box and ultimately leads to the strongest option on the battlefield. Panzer is smarter and more durable than any conventional commoner you could field in combat. While he may not bring a lot of talents to melee combat he is meant to apply suppression fire while sustaining damage over a period of time. In many ways Panzer is the ‘super-soldier’ of commoners with their ability to not only handle a battle but also plan accordingly for it through cheap traps (from DMG2). But once again, this is a particularly cheap option.

    Senior Sanctified: Male Old-Aged Human Commoner; CR ½; Medium Humanoid (human); HD 1d4-1; hp 3; Init -1; Spd 30 ft.; AC 29 (10 -1 dex +4 sacred bonus +4 natural armor bonus +4 deflection bonus +4 exalted bonus +4 total defense), touch 25, flat-footed 22; Base Atk -1; Grp -1; Atk -3 melee (1d4-1/x2, 10ft.; quarterstaff); SA; SQ Calming Aura (20 ft. radius; Will DC 16; Calm Emotions), Exalted Skin (Fort DC 14; manufactured weapons shatter upon your skin); AL LG; SV Fort -1, Ref -1, Will +1; Str 8, Dex 8, Con 8, Int 13, Wis 13, Cha 13.
    Skills and Feats: Craft (Carpentry) +5 (4 ranks +1 int), Diplomacy +9 (1 rank +1 cha +2 perfection bonus +4 exalted bonus +1 honest), Heal +3 (2 ranks +1 wis), Knowledge (Religion) +2 (1 rank +1 int), Read/Write/Speak (Common & Celestial); Sacred Vow, Vow of Nonviolence, Vow of Peace and Vow of Poverty.
    Traits & Flaws: Cautious & Honest; Noncombatant & Shaky
    Equipment (2 sp; 6 lb.): Peasant’s Outfit (1 sp; 2 lbs.) & a Quarterstaff (0 gp; 4 lbs.)

    Senior Sanctified is basically the commoner equivalent of the Dwarven Defender. He possesses no offensive capabilities and serves only to slow down an opponent through his extremely high armor class. With an AC of 29 he can evade most low-scale foes who find their way over to him, hopefully long enough for others to find protection, and with his calming aura & exalted skin abilities he brings some even more defensive abilities to the table. In a utility function he has a talent for diplomacy and within a community functions as a handy-man for others.
    Last edited by Zonugal; 2013-09-13 at 10:14 PM.

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    Default Re: The Commoner Handbook

    This is amazing, finally there's a guide for an NPC class. Well done.

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    The Chaotic Stupid party will rue the day they attacked the hamlet full of guys with Handle Animal and Dissolving Spittle.

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    This thread? Awesome.

    The absolute lowest-power end of 3.5e has always fascinated me. Where many people get excited about pushing the boundaries of the system at the top (epic levels, spells that change entire planes, tristalt games), I get excited about pushing the boundaries at the low end.

    Forget the story of the level 24 Wizard//Cleric//Druid fighting gods for the future of the planes themselves, or the level 13 Sorcerer trying to save the world from destruction, or even the level 4 Rogue fighting to free the local lands from the corrupt duke - I want to play the story of the peasant who has to deal with rats in the cellar, but who can't risk just going down there because they will bite you and you will get sick and you will die.

    Incidentally, for those who have an interest in such things - and you came to this thread, didn't you? - you might like to read through this thread from a couple years ago, in which we did a bunch of brainstorming/analysis of ways to run a fun Commoner campaign. The actual rules the OP of that thread decided to use are linked in the followup thread.

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    This is amazing!

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    Default Re: The Commoner Handbook

    I don't see any references to Chicken Infested, which makes the commoner onto a god.

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    Hahaha... Tucker's Kobolds meets Farmville.

    I guess the most obvious question is, what EL of threat against Opto-Thorp does it take for them to actually feel the need to put out a call for adventurers? (I'm guessing bog-standard "ogre raiders" and "bandit fodder" have either learned to avoid Opto-Thorp or succumbed to natural selection.)
    Last edited by tiercel; 2012-02-15 at 04:26 AM.

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    This? An awesome thread. You? Awesome optimizer. I'd love to see when the goblins raid the village. Adventurers would be called to save the goblins.

    Hahaha... Tucker's Kobolds meets Farmville.
    Well said.
    Last edited by legomaster00156; 2012-02-15 at 01:37 AM.
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    Thank you, thank you...

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    I may need to use this at some point. It's awesome.

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    Why? I don't understand. Who thinks of these sort of things. I started to tear up half way through. This is truly a work of art. Good job. Great job. Fantastic job! This is by far my favorite handbook yet. It will get much abuse.

    I don't think chicken infested should be mention. It ruins the mystique of the thread. I do however think that there should be a chicken infested handbook. My personal favorite is just giving them all the war beast template and stampeding off into the sunset. But of course someone will mention consumptive field, but that's a whole different ball park.
    Last edited by kulosle; 2012-02-15 at 04:17 AM.

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    Holy cow! This is great! So an Opto-Thorp (I like that name) is being attacked by a 5HD Wyrmling Black Dragon. 40 optimized commoners who don't know it's coming. The dragon knows about them and approaches according to it's mental stats. Who wins? (It's immune to acid thoguh, so be careful).

    I'm only asking because a Wyrmling Black Dragon can make minced meat out of a Wizard/Cleric/Fighter/Rogue 1 as printed in the PHB (henceforth knows as Tordek's Raiders) and played the way WotC expects - blasting, healboting etc.

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    Excellent guide.
    "Village of Fell Conspiracy" is definitely showing up next time I run D&D.

    As for the most dangerous Commoner I can think up? Soulspark Familiar, Hidden Talent (Disable) and Aberrant Dragonmark (Burning Hands).
    Flaws: Non-combatant, Murky-Eyed.
    Trait: Aggressive

    His Soulspark Familiar will function as a "tank" against enemies, while Burny McCrazyEyes uses Disable for two rounds. Then he falls back on Burning Hands.
    Watch your back, shoot straight, conserve ammo, never trust an elf and never, ever, cut a deal with a dragon.
    Zonugals Handbook to Commoners
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    I thing of beauty.

    Obligatory references:
    Dwarven Farmer
    Joe Wood's adventures
    Last edited by Radar; 2012-02-15 at 07:39 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myth View Post
    Holy cow! This is great! So an Opto-Thorp (I like that name) is being attacked by a 5HD Wyrmling Black Dragon. 40 optimized commoners who don't know it's coming. The dragon knows about them and approaches according to it's mental stats. Who wins? (It's immune to acid thoguh, so be careful).

    I'm only asking because a Wyrmling Black Dragon can make minced meat out of a Wizard/Cleric/Fighter/Rogue 1 as printed in the PHB (henceforth knows as Tordek's Raiders) and played the way WotC expects - blasting, healboting etc.
    Wyrmling blacks have 4HD.

    They'll have at least a couple guys with trained spot for seeing raiders and dragons. Everyone has a sling or crossbow. Any halflings can ride the trained riding dogs.

    If everyone fires, they hit on at least a 15. At least 12 for a halfling. More with a higher dex, less with a lower dex (although since they focus on ranged attacks and animals, I don't see why they'd have a lower dex). Forty commoners have an equal chance of landing every number on a d20 twice per round, so they get about six shots off a round. Let's assume they hit with an average of two crossbows and four slings, medium sized. That's 2d8+4d4 damage, averaging at 20 damage per round. The dragon has 30 hit points.
    Last edited by Jade Dragon; 2012-02-15 at 12:51 PM.

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    Default Re: The Commoner Handbook

    I think Wild Cohort is one of the best feats ever for a commoner...

    Also, doesn't this have great ideas for the commoner?

    http://brilliantgameologists.com/boa...php?topic=7167

    What with the chicken bloodline and such?

    What about the Sam the Commoner build? It mentions Item Familiar and various Leadership feats, amongst other things...
    Last edited by Gavinfoxx; 2012-02-15 at 12:59 PM.

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    Default Re: The Commoner Handbook

    I would add Autohypnosis to the cross-class skills (it's just that good.) Mage's Spectacles and Psion's Eyes should be added to the MoI feats, as those will let your commoner make UMD and UPD checks respectively, plus a substantial bonus to same.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    First, please don't start threads with ideas you don't support just to see what reactions you get. That's almost the definition of trolling.

    Second, the whole "blue text" thing is not a forum rule or even a recommended procedure. If someone wants to do it in their own posts, fine, but everyone should stop telling people that they "need to" or "should have" posted in blue just because they're being sarcastic/ironic/whatever.

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    Default Re: The Commoner Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Jade Dragon View Post
    If everyone fires, they hit on at least a 15. At least 12 for a halfling. More with a higher dex, less with a lower dex (although since they focus on ranged attacks and animals, I don't see why they'd have a lower dex). Forty commoners have an equal chance of landing every number on a d20 twice per round, so they get about six shots off a round. Let's assume they hit with an average of two crossbows and four slings, medium sized. That's 2d8+4d4 damage, averaging at 20 damage per round. The dragon has 30 hit points.
    That's before counting the Missile Volley in, which gives them a substantial bonus. Considering scouting resources in Opto-Thorp, the commoners should have enough time to get into formation.
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    Default Re: The Commoner Handbook

    You should probably include some traits that are good for Commoners to pick.
    Quote Originally Posted by JaronK View Post
    Frankly, a Wizard can suck even more than a Fighter could ever dream of sucking. A Fighter can stab himself to death, but only a Wizard could Plane Shift to some horrible far realm to be tortured for an eternity of insanity.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jade Dragon View Post
    Wyrmling blacks have 4HD.

    They'll have at least a couple guys with trained spot for seeing raiders and dragons. Everyone has a sling or crossbow. Any halflings can ride the trained riding dogs.

    If everyone fires, they hit on at least a 15. At least 12 for a halfling. More with a higher dex, less with a lower dex (although since they focus on ranged attacks and animals, I don't see why they'd have a lower dex). Forty commoners have an equal chance of landing every number on a d20 twice per round, so they get about six shots off a round. Let's assume they hit with an average of two crossbows and four slings, medium sized. That's 2d8+4d4 damage, averaging at 20 damage per round. The dragon has 30 hit points.
    Assume a player is runnig it. As I said, the Dragon has knowledge that this isn't an ordinary Thorp.

    The villagers don't all clump together like an amorphous mass of 40 slings and bows. They have at most 5 (1/8 of the total number of commoners there, if half are women who have to cook/breastfeed/take care of the children that leaves 20 men, so 5 sentinels means one in every four is keeping watch) sentries.

    The Dragon has adequate mental stats. It will not come in like some Chaotic Stupid orc and announce it's presence. It will fly in at night when the spot check to see it is nigh-on-impossible for a commoner (it's Tiny sized) before he gets melted by that breath weapon. By the time the town starts assembling, a commoner would die every 1d4 rounds, while a Tiny sized stealth bomber that has Keen Senses (Ex) picks them out and ducks back in the cover of night. It takes flyby attack as it's first feat probably, though I'm sure there's a better one in Draconomicon or whatever.

    It is safe to assume that a small Thorp of commoners has a water source nearby, perhaps a stream. The dragon can hide there and become basically invulnerable, though I don't see how they can force it to do so.

    I'd say everyone who comes out dies.

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    Default Re: The Commoner Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    I don't see any references to Chicken Infested, which makes the commoner onto a god.
    I wanted to stay away from Dragon material.

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    I would add Autohypnosis to the cross-class skills (it's just that good.) Mage's Spectacles and Psion's Eyes should be added to the MoI feats, as those will let your commoner make UMD and UPD checks respectively, plus a substantial bonus to same.
    UMD & UPD are a bit iffy in that they are fairly difficult to optimize at such a low level. If we took a Middle-Aged Commoner with the Apprentice (Spellcaster), Mage's Spectacles & Skill Focus (Use Magic Device) we'd still have only a score of 12. A masterwork tool could pump that to 14 which puts us in a better spot but you'll still fail on a 7 or lower.

    But there certainly is an advantage to this as 0-level & 1st-level scrolls are economically viable.

    I'd still like to touch upon the tactic that just came to my attention, almost right before I posted this, about using Magical Training to qualify for Precocious Apprentice as to gain access to a single 2nd-level spell.

    And as for the Dragon you could conceivably have the commoners win if you build a squad of "Dark Wizards." Have a couple with Magical Training, Surge of Malevolence and Debilitating Spell. Have someone like Senior Sanctified to distract the Wyrmling (which is very easy as it won't be able to land a blow on him) while some Dark Wizards surround it. They then launch a barrage of Ray of Frosts affected with Debilitating Spell. Touch attacks will likely hit and beyond causing some small cold damage they either inflict 2 points of Constitution damage or 4 points of Wisdom damage. If your Dark Wizards focus on the Wisdom damage they only need to hit three times before the Wyrmling is down.

    So basically if you can draw the Wyrmling out into an actual fight it will die.
    Last edited by Zonugal; 2012-02-15 at 04:09 PM.

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    Default Re: The Commoner Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Zonugal View Post
    UMD & UPD are a bit iffy in that they are fairly difficult to optimize at such a low level. If we took a Middle-Aged Commoner with the Apprentice (Spellcaster), Mage's Spectacles & Skill Focus (Use Magic Device) we'd still have only a score of 12. A masterwork tool could pump that to 14 which puts us in a better spot but you'll still fail on a 7 or lower.
    Wouldn't Duskling or Azurin commoners get an additional +2 from their essentia? Or did you already factor that in?

    And even with a 35% failure chance, you can always try again - you only have a 5% chance of locking yourself out of a given item, and you only deplete it if you actually succeed.
    Alphonse Elric by Fay Graydon
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    First, please don't start threads with ideas you don't support just to see what reactions you get. That's almost the definition of trolling.

    Second, the whole "blue text" thing is not a forum rule or even a recommended procedure. If someone wants to do it in their own posts, fine, but everyone should stop telling people that they "need to" or "should have" posted in blue just because they're being sarcastic/ironic/whatever.

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    Default Re: The Commoner Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Wouldn't Duskling or Azurin commoners get an additional +2 from their essentia? Or did you already factor that in?

    And even with a 35% failure chance, you can always try again - you only have a 5% chance of locking yourself out of a given item, and you only deplete it if you actually succeed.
    I had not thought about using an incarnum-based race.

    I certainly see the advantages of having such an individual within a community able to access wands & scrolls, my only apprehension comes from the community not being able to suitably create such items. He'd almost come off as a back-up character for dangerous missions or events.

    So while this type of character would be very useful they'd be entirely dependent on the outside world to sustain their use.

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    Default Re: The Commoner Handbook

    Welp, I'm stealing this for all NPCs ever.
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